MINIATURE DONKEYS of Sardinia and Scicily- 'Bill and Ben'

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Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys are a separate breed of donkey originating from the islands of Sardinia and Scicily. Because they were so small they were employed to turn grinding stones for grain inside the peasants' houses. There are 18th century wood block pictures showing these small donkeys, blindfolded, attached to the grain mill and walking in endless circles. They were also used to carry water from village wells and supplies into the mountains for shepherds.

Now almost extinct in their native land, these diminutive little animals are a popular pet in the USA, especially in the southern states. Approximately 700 have been imported into the UK from North America and are fast becoming very popular here in Great Britain. The most common colour is grey dun with chocolate highlights. Other colours include brown, black, slate grey, sorrel, spotted, piebald, skewbald and cream.

Miniatures usually have at least three recorded generations of ancestry. Many have up to 400 recorded ancestors dating back to 1929 when the first imports from Sardinia arrived in the USA and were imported by Mr. Robert Green, a stockbroker of New York and sent to his stud farm in New Jersey.


They are easy companion animals to keep, but must be kept in a group of at least two. They are boistrous, and often play fight, so may cause havoc in a mixed herd of lambs or goats. Two donkeys will need at least 1 acre of land, but should be kept on short grazing and light rough food of good clean quality as they are of desert origin. In general in many other ways they should be treated in a similar manner to native ponies, but they do require field shelter or stabling, and should never be allowed to get wet.

True to self, Bill and Ben are great brothers, play fighting, and enjoy fooling around with any of the obstacles they can find in the fields.  They were introduced to the Centre in 2007, when Bill was 18 months, and Ben just 6 months old.  They are great characters, and also quite friendly with our visitors, especially when they think they can share a picnic or two!!  They are fun and amusing companion animals, highly intelligent, but often stubborn and beligerant!

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