Fast facts about… Minia­ture Mediter­ranean don­keys

Country Smallholding - - Feature -

Minia­ture Mediter­ranean don­keys are a sep­a­rate breed of don­key orig­i­nat­ing from the is­lands of Sar­dinia and Si­cily.

Now al­most ex­tinct in their na­tive land, these diminu­tive crea­tures are a pop­u­lar pet in the USA, es­pe­cially in the south­ern states.

Ap­prox­i­mately 700 have been im­ported into the UK from North Amer­ica and they have been in­creas­ing rapidly in pop­u­lar­ity.

The most com­mon colour is grey dun with choco­late high­lights. Other colours in­clude brown, black, slate grey, sor­rel, spot­ted, piebald, skew­bald and cream.

An adult will weigh 80- 120kg and height should be no more than 36in/91cm at the with­ers (the ridge be­tween the shoul­der blades; the tallest point of the body).

Orig­i­nally used to turn grind­ing stones for grain and carry water from vil­lage wells and sup­plies into the moun­tains for shep­herds, they are now kept as pets.

Don­keys are desert an­i­mals and there­fore with Bri­tain’s wet, tem­per­ate cli­mate and lush pas­tures they have found them­selves in a some­what alien en­vi­ron­ment. This sin­gle fac­tor de­ter­mines the ba­sis of their care and, par­tic­u­larly, feed­ing and how it sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fers from horses and ponies.

Don­keys are herd an­i­mals and should al­ways have at least one com­pan­ion. Goats, sheep and ponies are not suit­able as that furry friend.

Two minia­ture don­keys re­quire a min­i­mum of one acre of land. Poor qual­ity or wet­ness may in­di­cate the need for a larger area. This should be sub­di­vided into sec­tions to pre­vent over­graz­ing and overeat­ing.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit the Minia­ture Mediter­ranean Don­key As­so­ci­a­tion web­site (www.minia­ture- don­keyas­, which is run by Chris Hogg. It of­fers guid­ance rang­ing from care and wel­fare to don­key price tags.

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