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All About Mules & Donkeys  

1. Mules are the offspring of a male donkey and female horse

Mules combine characteristics of both horse and donkey parents to create a tougher, more resilient working animal. A hinny, the offspring of a male horse and female donkey is much rarer and more closely resembles its mother with the long ears of a donkey.

2. Mules are 99.9% sterile

This is due to an uneven chromosome count although in rare cases, female mules have been known to give birth to foals.

3. Mules are hardier, eat less, and live longer than horses of an equivalent size

Mules require less food and have more stamina than horses of the same weight and height, making them resilient working animals in some of the harshest environments.

4. Mules are less stubborn and more intelligent than donkeys

Don’t let the old saying “as stubborn as a mule” fool you: mules are thought to be more docile than their donkey fathers. But a mule’s intelligence also means that they are more cautious and aware of danger, making them safer to ride when crossing dangerous terrain.

5. Mules generally weigh between 800 and 1,000 lbs but “mini mules” can weigh under 50 lbs

Mules can inherit a range of features from their parents and there’s no promise of what a mule foal might grow in to. Over the centuries, owners have experimented with crossbreeding different sizes and breeds of horses – from miniature horses to draft horses – to create different sizes and strengths of mule.

6. The skin of a mule is less sensitive than that of a horses and more resistant to sun and rain

This makes mules a dependable option for owners who work outside in harsh weather and strong sunlight. Although SPANA vets still see a lot of injuries as a result of poorly fitting equipment, mules are slightly less sensitive to the elements.

7. Mules can live up to 50 years

Although the average lifespan for mules is between 35 and 40 years, some mules have been known to live until 50, especially if well looked after.

8. Mules have harder hooves than horses which makes them great for rocky terrain

Mules’ hooves are less likely to split or crack and can withstand mountainous trails and rocky farm soil. For many owners around the world who may not be able to regularly replace horseshoes, this means that mules are cheaper to keep.

9. Some mules have been known to make whimpering noises

In addition to whinnying like a horse and braying like a donkey, mules make sounds that combine both calls and have even been known to whimper when excited or worried.

10. Militaries have depended on mules for millennia

Mules have been used throughout history as reliable pack animals in combat, able to take on the tough terrain that other forms of transport can’t reach. For example, in the 1980s the US military used more than 10,000 mules to carry weapons and supplies through Afghanistan’s rugged hills to Afghan mujahedeen camps.

11. China breeds the largest numbers of mules in the world, followed by Mexico

China breeds more than seven million mules each year where they are commonly used on small farms and for transport. 

12. Mules can kick sideways - known as cowkicking

Although mules are usually docile, an angry or frustrated mule can kick both backwards and to the side. Avoid a mule’s hind legs as these animals can pack quite a punch!


1. Did you know donkeys have excellent memory? They are capable of remembering a place they have been to or other donkeys they met 25 years ago!

2. A donkey will never get involved in an activity if it considers it to be unsafe.

3. With proper maintenance and care, a donkey can live for more than 40 years.

4. Donkeys are by nature herd animals. They prefer to stay in groups but a single donkey can actually live happily with group of goats.

5. When it comes to traveling in all terrains, donkeys are far better than horses. In fact, donkeys are considered to be all-terrain animals.

6. Donkeys are originally from desert areas of Middle East and Africa and are anatomically well-equipped to survive in those conditions.

7. A donkey is capable of hearing another donkey from a distance of 60 miles in proper desert conditions. This is possible because of their large ears.

8. Their large ears also help to keep their body cool in hot and arid desert conditions.

9. Compared to horses, donkeys are capable of independent thinking and decision making ensuring their safety.

10. In case they sense something wrong while traveling, they will simply not move ahead and will start digging in their heels. This is a behavior out of their intelligence. This behavior has made people think that donkeys are stubborn.

11. As mentioned earlier, donkeys are herd animals. This is true even if they are domesticated. The strongest one in the herd is usually selected as the herd leader.

12. A herd leader always acts like a leader in face of a threat (like that of a predator attacking the herd). The leader will stay and face the threat allowing enough time for the rest of the herd to escape to safety.

13. Unlike horses, donkeys are not prone to being startled easily. Though they put safety first, they are still pretty curious by nature.

14. Donkeys hate rain. Their coat is not waterproof and staying out in rain for a long period actually damages their health.

15. Donkeys are capable of utilizing 95% of an entire meal they eat. This is because they are basically desert animals. In desert areas food is scarce and wasting food is not a luxury in those areas.

16. Donkeys have a special and very efficient digestive system that is capable of breaking down even the most inedible vegetation known. They don’t just breakdown the vegetation, they can even extract moisture very efficiently out of those plants and use the same to keep themselves hydrated.

17. Just like in case of chimps and monkeys, donkeys in a herd will groom each other and keep themselves clean.

18. Donkeys can be well-trained however, it requires quite some patience. Actions or words that will help them to realize that humans mean to protect them will actually earn their trust and eventually, they will lend themselves to training.

19. These animals enjoy rolling on ground. This is in fact their best pastime.

20. A donkey is known by different names. The most common names are donkey, burro, ass and jackstock. However, of all these names, ass is the most scientifically correct name. Burros usually refer to wild donkeys.

21. There are three different types of donkeys based on their height measured at shoulder level. The smallest type is known as Miniature donkey. These miniature breed of donkeys don’t go past the height of 36 inches. The other type is the Standard breed measuring 36-54 inches and final one is the Mammoth breed that measures more than 54 inches.

22. Donkeys and horses are often crossbred. The baby of a female horse and a male donkey is known as Mule.

23. The baby of a male horse and a female donkey is known as Hinny (plural: hinnies).

24. A male donkey is often referred to as Jack while a female goes by the name Jenny or Jennet.

25. Jennies stay pregnant for 365 days and eventually give birth to a single baby (foal). Twin births are very rare in case of donkeys.

26. Hinnies and Mules are sterile by birth. Mules are more desirable than Hinnies because Mules are stronger.

27. Donkeys get depressed very easily when left alone. That is the reason why they live in herds. In absence of other donkeys, they will need some other companions like goats or humans.

28. Donkeys are naturally aggressive towards canines, including domesticated dogs. However, their natural enemies are wolves and coyotes. Because of their natural hatred for canines, they defend themselves and their companions very aggressively against the canines. This particular characteristic of donkeys make them wonderful guard animals for flocks of sheep and goats.

29. Donkeys and horses have same gait but donkeys are rarely seen running. Deserts being their native climate, donkeys probably saw running as unnecessary in high temperature. This instinct of not running has stayed with them since their evolution.

30. China has the highest number of donkeys in the entire world. In Britain, donkeys need to have passport!

Henryetta Mule and Donkey Days is presented by

Sandy Warschaw & Every Cowgirls Dream 

Henryetta Mule and  Donkey Days - Henryetta, Oklahoma

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