Are you looking for a bigger pet offering long years of friendship? How about a donkey? Miniature donkeys are small-sized donkey species that originated in Africa and were mainly used for labor. The donkeys were imported to the US in the 1920s and later made pets by wealthy families.

A miniature donkey fits the description of a loyal, social, low-maintenance, and affectionate pet. But how many years do miniature donkeys live? Usually, miniature donkeys can live for 35 to 40 years. Read on to find out more.

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What Is the Average Lifespan of a Miniature Donkey?

This donkey breed is estimated to live between 35 to 40 years with quality care. To earn almost four decades of companionship, you must take care of the donkey’s social and physical needs. Their short height should not fool you into thinking they have lesser needs.

Caring for miniature donkeys includes providing enough food and water and keeping them in a spacious grazing land where they can feed and move freely. Pet donkeys also yearn for human company.

a miniature donkey eating grass
Image Credit: JACLOU-DL, Pixabay


Why Do Some Donkeys Live Longer Than Others?

While some donkeys hardly get to their 25th birthday, others live for more than 40 years. Domesticated breeds live longer than their wild counterparts due to the environment they live in.

The following factors explain why some donkeys have a higher life expectancy than others.

1. Nutrition

Domesticated miniature donkeys’ nutrition differs from donkeys living in the wild. Donkeys in the wild barely have access to enough water or food.

On the other hand, pet donkeys enjoy a consistent supply of quality feed and enough water. Besides quality pasture, pet donkeys also enjoy fruits and vegetable treats as nutritional supplements.

miniature donkey eating
Image Credit: babeaudufraing, Shutterstock

2. Environment and Conditions

The environment plays a vital role in the well-being of a miniature donkey. For example, wild donkeys do not enjoy the tranquility their pets counterparts do because marauding predators constantly hunt them down or injure them.

3. Housing

The life expectancy of donkeys living in shelters is longer than that of desert donkeys. Proper housing protects them from harsh climatic conditions like heavy rainfall and floods, which is not the case for wild donkeys. Desert donkeys do not have a permanent shelter and roam in the desert looking for pasture, putting their lives at risk due to lurking predators. Lack of shelter also renders the desert donkeys vulnerable to illnesses that can shorten their lives.

a miniature donkey in pen
Image Credit: stockphotofan1, Shutterstock

4. Sex

While there is no study to prove that gender has anything to do with a donkey’s life expectancy, the Guinness World Records¹ documents the oldest donkey to ever live as a female named Suzy, who died in 2002 at 54.

Some sources also claim that there is an older donkey named Bubbles¹, a female aged 62. The two reports may allude to female donkeys enjoying longer lives than males.

5. Breeding History

There is no research to prove that some donkey breeds live longer than others, but the observation is that species that live in more affluent countries have a long shot at life than their counterparts in developing countries.

Also, birth injuries or defects resulting from premature breeding can shorten a donkey’s life cycle. The ideal breeding age for miniature female donkeys starts at three years.

miniature donkeys walking on grassy field
Image Credit: JACLOU-DL, Pixabay

6. Healthcare

Poor donkey healthcare is detrimental to its life expectancy. Domesticated donkeys enjoy veterinary services such as vaccinations and treatment against diseases and infections. Most common donkey diseases include respiratory infections, laminitis, stomach ulcers, and parasites.

The donkeys in the wild and captivity do not have access to healthcare; therefore, some health complications may shorten their lifespan.


The 6 Life Stages of a Donkey

The miniature donkey has six life stages, as detailed below.

Embryonic Stage

The life cycle of a donkey starts at the embryonic stage after mating between a Jack and a Jennet. The gestation period lasts 11-12 months for a foal to be born.


A female donkey can only produce one foal in each gestation period, with twin foals being rare. The foals are born strong, enabling them to walk and run a few hours after birth.


Little donkeys start feeding on plants after 4-6 months of suckling. Juveniles take 3-5 years to grow into adulthood.

baby donkey eating hay
Image Credit: Piqsels

Young Adult

Juveniles are considered young adults in their 2nd year, and it is only a matter of time before they become mature adults.

Mature Adult

Donkeys enter adulthood in their 3rd to 5th year. Their bones are fully developed in this stage, as well as their second teeth set.

Miniature Donkeys
Miniature Donkeys (Image Credit: Paul F. Kisak, Wikimedia Commons CC 4.0 International)

Senior Adult

Most donkeys start showing aging signs in their early 20s. It would be best if you were vigilant once they reach their senior years so you can give them proper care in terms of shelter, companionship, food, healthcare, grooming, and more.

How to Tell Your Donkeys Age

It is possible to determine a donkey’s age by observing its teeth formation and condition. You can estimate their age by looking at their front teeth for donkeys below ten years. The middle adult teeth grow between 2.5 and 3rd years. Their incisors also wear out as they grow.


Final Thoughts

Miniature donkeys have all the qualities of a lovable pet. They are calm, intelligent, and friendly, and the best part is that they do not require much maintenance. However, you must provide them with quality feeds and proper healthcare for them to live long. They can clock 40 if you take care of them well.

Don’t forget that they require companionship for them to thrive. Good luck with your donkey ownership journey!

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Featured Image Credit: Gregory Johnston, Shutterstock