March 20, 2022

How Long Can Minis Live?

I was watching a documentary on TV the other day that dealt with lifespans. It covered a huge range of living species from plants to fish to birds and even insects.

It was pretty fascinating to see how something like a fly only lives for a couple of months at the very most... (which is plenty of time to bother your beloved miniature donkeys, unless you equip them properly).

At the other end of the spectrum, there is a species of shark (Greenland shark) that can live between 300-500 years under the right circumstances.

What would you do if you could live that long? That is probably something that most everyone has given thought to at some point or another.

I watched this show lead right into the beautifully colored dusk hours and right up to feeding time for my favorite little pasture pals. Now, I don’t know about you, but I tend to think about some of life's most mysterious topics when I am hanging with these miniature donkeys.


Donkey looking into the sunset.


This particular time I got to pondering on how long I might be able to do this with this group of goofy grazers.


How long will these miniature donkeys live?

I wish it was something I didn't have to think about, but I am a preparer by nature so I tend to think every little thing all the way through.

What are their lifespans?

What are common life shorteners?

What do you do when they pass?

Knowing the answers to these tough questions can really go a long way in easing your mind when the time comes. 



This is a pretty tricky question, “average” lifespans and all, and I think that it depends on who you ask as to what answer you will hear.

According to The Smithsonian National Zoo, miniature donkeys will live well into their 30’s with the average lifespan being 33 years old.

So, that is the official “science-y” answer. I mean it is pretty good news and if you are just looking for internet facts, then there you have it.

However, I like to use my own input and the input of people that I know have owned and worked with miniature donkeys and have the experience first hand.

You might have heard the phrase “in donkey years” thrown around by people that have owned them. This phrase basically means a long-a$$ (hee haw) time and it means that for a reason... donkeys live a good long while.

According to The Brayer, there have been claims that there are some donkeys that have made it into the 50 year age range.

50 years!

(You might outta update your will to figure out who is gonna take care of your miniature donkeys when you ain't around, lol.)

Once you live with mini’s you won't ever want to be without them, even if it's 50-ish years!

I found a great question in the November 2019 issue of The Brayer, “How long IS ‘donkey years’?  Here's some of the answers...

   No one knows.

   50 is certain.

   60 has been suggested!

   When you let a donkey into your heart, it’s there for life!”

It is pretty awesome to know that if you take good care of your miniature donkeys, they could pretty easily be around to keep you in great company for most of your adult life and a good amount of your kids' lives.

That long lifespan will need a good amount of assistance from you as their owners. There are several lifespan shorteners to be aware of as miniature donkey owners.


Lifespan shorteners...

Making sure they have a good relationship with their vet and farrier should be at the top of the list. Having periodic check-ups with a vet will help ensure a long and healthy life for your miniature donkeys.

Beyond the health of your mini donks, environmental bugaboos can be responsible for taking your little loves away before their time, such as toxic plants. 

Another thing to think about is the type of fencing you put around your miniature donkey pens. Responsible owners need to make sure that they use a material type and pattern type that will keep your miniature donkeys in, but more importantly, keep predators out!

Shopping around at any co-op/feed mill/ranch supply store, you should find plenty of help choosing the right type of fence for your miniature donkey pen needs. We like to use a woven wire fence, also called horse fence, around our miniature donkey pen. It helps us know that dogs and other predatory animals can’t get in the pens and hurt our beloved pasture pals.

Another thing to think about is having adequate shelter.

It's pretty necessary to ensure your minis have good shelter for getting out of cold, rainy, snowy weather.

But another threat to pasture animals is lightning. There are tons of animals that die every year from lightning strikes. Make sure your donkey shelter game is strong! 


What to do when you loose an animal...

Lastly for this bit of information, it is important to know what to do when your miniature donkey has been found unresponsive/dead.

It is one thing when you have a donkey that is getting old and has been gradually going downhill and they mosey off by themselves to lay down and go peacefully. It is quite another thing when you find one lying dead for unknown reasons.

It may seem like common sense, but you NEED to call your vet. If you are breeding, if there are multiple animals in your pens, or if you have show animals nearby it is always best to work with your vet so you can know exactly why.

The last thing you would want is for something major to strike your herd that could have been avoided.

Its tough to lose your mini for any reason, they are basically family. For peace of mind, knowing why they passed is the best course of action so you can avoid any “what ifs” and “maybe if I did this” situations in your future. 

In conclusion, I think it is pretty evident that when you invest in miniature donkeys, you are getting a pet/family member/friend for life.

Taking care of them so that they are around for the long haul is not rocket science, so if you are thinking of making the commitment, DO IT. You won’t regret it. 

For more info on miniature donkeys or if you are in the market for fun miniature donkey merch click here and happy browsing!


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