Our Animals - Sicilian Donkey

Our Animals > Sicilian Donkey

Sicilian Donkey mama and baby

The donkey was domesticated long before the horse. The ancestry of the modern domestic donkey lies in three African wild asses, the Nubian, Somali, and North African. Hybridization between the Nubian and Somali also resulted in today’s domestic donkey. There are three breeds of donkey recognized by North American registries; the Miniature, Standard, and Large Standard.



The Sicilian donkey is a miniature breed of domestic donkey, standing only 28-38 inches tall at the withers. They usually weigh between 250 and 450 pounds. The most common color is gray, but they can range from black, brown, chestnut, white, or spotted. The Sicilian breed is noted for a cross-shaped marking along the back beginning at the base of the neck. Legend says that Jesus rode a Sicilian donkey and that is the reason for the cross-shaped marking.

Baby DonkeysNatural History

Domestic donkeys have retained a lot of the aggression of the wild ancestors. If a group of donkeys is attacked, they will form a circle and fight the predator with their hooves. However the Sicilian donkey is known for its sweet, affectionate disposition. Donkeys are very social creatures and need the company of other donkeys or animals. Contrary to popular opinion, donkeys are not dumb animals. They are actually very clever but can often be stubborn. Donkeys are highly resistant to disease and remain healthy even into old age which can be as much as forty years and over. They are probably the easiest domestic animals to maintain, requiring little food in the relation for the amount of work they do.


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