Height:30–36 inches
Weight:200–450 pounds
Lifespan:25–40 years
Colors:Gray, black, white, brown
Suitable for:Families looking for a loving pet and are willing to dedicate hours
Temperament:Loyal, loving, docile, and entertaining


Sicilian Donkey Foals

Temperament & Intelligence of the Sicilian Donkey

Sicilian Donkeys are kept for their working capability because they are capable of carrying up to 100 pounds, and they can even be ridden by young children. They are also popularly kept as companion animals, almost like pets, although experts generally do not recommend that they be kept in houses because they need to be able to graze freely.

Are These Donkeys Good for Families?

Known for being friendly and affectionate, as well as fun-loving, the Sicilian Donkey is considered a good family companion. It can be ridden by young children. The same weight limit of around 25% of the donkey’s body weight does apply. And, even when the children get too big to ride the Donkey, its playful nature means that they will still enjoy time with younger family members.

Donkeys do require regular care, however, and can live as long as 40 years in captivity, so they represent a significant undertaking and commitment.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

The Sicilian Donkey is a docile breed, and its size means that it is barely any larger than a lot of farm animals. One will typically get along with all residents of a yard, from horses to cats, and it will investigate and greet most animals.

As long as your dog is respectful of the Donkey’s space, it should be fine to have them meet. Miniature Donkeys have been known to form close bonds with their family’s pets.

This animal does not do well when kept alone. As such, it is always best to adopt or buy two, unless you have an existing family of Donkeys that a new member can become a part of. Some adoption centers and rescues may not be willing to let you adopt a single Donkey if you don’t already have one of your own.

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Things to Know When Owning a Sicilian Donkey:

The Sicilian Donkey is amiable and loving. It will get along with other pets and it can even perform some pulling and carrying duties for you but owning one does require a significant commitment because of the longevity and the care requirements of them.


As desert animals, Sicilian Donkeys are better suited to hot, dry conditions rather than wet and cold environments. They are hardy and they will adapt to most situations, however, but you will need to provide shelter while also offering plenty of land to graze.

Two Miniature Donkeys require at least an acre of land between them. Section the land off to prevent overgrazing in any one particular area. The shelter should have three walls and a roof to protect against wind and rain.

Food & Diet Requirements

For a start, you will need to provide fresh water every day. Your donkey will refuse stale water, and this can lead to dehydration. As well as offering free grazing in the donkey’s habitat, you will need to provide around 2–3 kilograms of fibrous food every day. This is usually straw but can be hay. If you use restricted grazing, you may need to supplement the grass with vitamin supplements.


Ensure that your Sicilian Donkey has plenty of room. Two donkeys should be given an acre of land. Not only does this help ensure that they have plenty of grazing, but Sicilian Donkeys are quite active and they live to have fun, charging around and kicking out.

Donkeys can be ridden, but this shouldn’t be the main source of exercise. You may find that your Sicilian Donkey likes some of the same games as your dog so take a football out and provide some other entertainment to offer enrichment.

Small Donkey
Image Credit: Jumpstory


Donkeys can be trained, and because of the Sicilian Donkey’s fun-loving and loyal attitude, it is considered one of the easier breeds to train.

Initially, you will need to gain its trust, which should just be a question of proximity and time spent together. Stand in the field with your donkey, gradually getting closer as it gets used to your company. Eventually, you should be able to touch and stroke your animal. Some Sicilian Donkeys will approach you straight away and you won’t need to acclimate them to your presence.

In particular, you will want to teach your donkeys to walk on a halter and a leash. It will make life much easier when you need to move them around. But, with patience, you can teach them some basic tricks and have them bring you items when you enter the paddock or lower their heads to be kissed.


Donkeys do not need as much grooming as horses, but a regular brushing not only ensures that your donkey feels fresh and builds a bond between the two of you, but it allows you to look for injuries, scars, and any potential signs of illness.

Your Sicilian Donkey does require regular hoof care, however. Their feet will need trimming every couple of months and you should check every day for stones that might be stuck. If it becomes painful for a donkey to walk, it may refuse to do so. You will need to check the teeth regularly for signs of decay.

Health and Conditions

Generally considered a hardy and healthy animal, the Sicilian Donkey can be prone to over-eating, which can subsequently cause serious conditions like hyperlipaemia and laminitis. Parasites are also a common problem. You will need to have your donkey dewormed every 3 months and ensure that you keep up with annual vaccinations and boosters.

Minor Conditions
  • Overfeeding
Serious Conditions
  • Hyperlipaemia
  • Laminitis
  • Parasites

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Male vs. Female

Adult male donkeys can be more difficult to control, and young males must be well-trained in their first couple of years to avoid this if you intend to leave your male donkey whole. They can fight other males, and this can cause injury, so it is important to keep an eye out for aggressive male behavior. The male is also more prone to wandering, which it would do in the wild to try and find a new mate while defending its territory.

3 Little-Known Facts About Sicilian Donkeys

1. They Are Capable of Hauling and Pulling Carts

Sicilian Donkeys hail from the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, where they have been used to haul produce for thousands of years. They are highly capable pack animals, just like their larger cousins, but they do have a lesser weight capacity.

Generally, donkeys of all types can carry around 25% of their own body weight, and full-grown adults weigh around 400 pounds. This means that your Sicilian could carry as much as 100 pounds of weight. The donkey is actually stronger per pound of body weight than the horse, and their compact size and determined nature mean that they are preferred as pack animals in some instances.

You mustn’t overload a Sicilian Donkey, however, as it can cause injury to its back.

2. Sicilian Donkeys Are Affectionate Animals

As well as being good workhorses, Sicilian Donkeys also make good companion animals that will form a close bond with their owner. They can even be taught to offer their head for a kiss, and they may nuzzle into your body when they want attention. In fact, the docile Sicilian Donkey is known to get along with most other animals, making it a good breed for the farmyard, and it will get along with all members of the family and most visitors.

3. They Can Be Stubborn

Most donkey owners have had situations where their animal has simply refused to do something. They can be headstrong and a little stubborn, and the Sicilian Donkey’s small size does not preclude this stubbornness. Donkeys are most likely to show stubbornness when they are scared or startled, but they may also decide they want to do their own thing and not what you want them to do.

When startled, the donkey isn’t being stubborn, it is determining the danger and assessing its options and won’t move until it has determined the best course of action. Rather than trying to push or pull the donkey around, you are likely to have greater success helping the donkey determine the source of its upset and work through it.


Final Thoughts

The Sicilian Donkey, which is also more commonly referred to as the Miniature Donkey, is a small donkey that hails from the islands of Sicily and Sardinia on the Mediterranean.

Despite the animal’s shorter stature, it is still capable of carrying a quarter of its own body weight, which has made it a popular pack animal for smaller loads. The breed is friendly and fun-loving, which also makes it a popular choice as a family animal. And because it will usually get along with all other animals as well, it is also a good choice for the farmyard or stable.

Featured Image Credit: Mathias Reding, Unsplash