9 Differences between Mule and Donkey

Is a Mule Bigger or Smaller than a Donkey? Which of these Two can be considered more Intelligent than the Other? What are their Traits?
9 Differences between Mule and Donkey

The general appearances of the mule and donkey are the same. The donkey is generally a domestic animal and has been used for more than 5000 years for working purposes. On the other hand, a mule can also be used as a working animal but it depends on its size and weight. We will discuss their similarities as well as their differences.

1. Birth of Mule and Donkey

A brown mule in the field: mule and donkey 1

A donkey is born to a donkey male and female, which means it is a result of the normal reproduction cycle of donkeys. Whereas, a mule is a hybrid breed that is born to a donkey male and a female horse. (See 14 Interesting Facts about Mammals)

2. Names 

These animals have got many names and they are,

3. Height Difference 

Height of Mule

The size of a mule and donkey is affected by the breed and the environment it is born and brought up.

  • A mule has an average height ranging between 120 cm to 180 cm (50 inches to 70 inches).
  • The average height of a donkey ranges from 90 cm to 150 cm (35 inches to 59 inches).
  • A donkey does not jump or they cannot jump because of their thin and short legs.
  • But a mule can jump up to a few feet from its standing position. Also, it is proven that a mule is more intelligent than a donkey in many aspects. 

Hence, mules and donkeys can be differentiated on the basis of their height, as mules are taller than donkeys. (See How Are Ponies and Horses Different?)

4. Weight Difference 

A donkey’s weight ranges between 91 kilograms to 204 kilograms (200 pounds to 450 pounds). Their weight is mostly affected by the place they live and the kind of work they do. If they are kept in a poor family for daily work like carrying a load on their backs, then those donkeys tend to have less weight because they do not get enough nutrition required by their body according to the work they do. Sometimes they are not even provided with basic food and water. Also, check out what animal eats bananas?

While a standard donkey in developed areas with better food and environment tends to weigh between 181 kilograms and 227 kilograms (400 pounds to 500 pounds), a mule’s weight can range between 275 kilograms and 700 kilograms (600 pounds to 1500 pounds). (Also read What’s Bigger Crocodile Or Alligator?)

5. Mule and Donkey Difference in Appearances

Three mules at the farm: mule and donkey 2

A mule and a donkey have almost identical facial features like the same ears, hair, and color. But the uniformity of the coat, the tail, the shape of the mules’ neck, and teeth, along with their height and body, all give them a horse-like look. Donkeys are shorter in height and much smaller than horses. They generally have short hair, long ears and faces, a short mane at the back of their necks, and some black stripes at the back. (See What does a Kraken Look Like?)

6. Stubborn Nature of Donkey

Have you ever heard the expression as stubborn as a mule? Well, you’ll be surprised to find out that that is incorrect. A donkey is more of an impatient kind but on the contrary, the mule is calmer. The donkey usually becomes stubborn if some heavy load is being put on them or under certain pressure. But a mule remains calm in such situations also. Owing to the genes of a female horse, a mule also inherits their calm nature. (See 4 No Stripe Zebra Facts)

7. Sounds of Mule and Donkey

A baby mule giving close up to the camera and neighs

A donkey does hee-haw kind of sound. This kind of sound is known as braying. The sound of braying is much coarse and louder than a horse’s neigh.

On the other hand, a mule can also produce a braying sound. But just like other hybrids, a mule can also make sounds like both of its parents. So, he can also neigh like his mother. They possess alike facial features along with their type of voice. (See Are Humans the only Animals that Sweat?)

8. Fertility of Mule and Donkey

Two donkeys can reproduce and the offspring obtained is a donkey foal. But being a hybrid breed with an odd number of chromosomes, a mule cannot reproduce. Male mules and female mules known as hinny cannot reproduce any offspring. But when a mule and donkey (female donkey) or horse male is bred then the offspring can be produced. The same is the case with a hinny.  (See What Animal has the Longest Pregnancy?)

9. Life Span Difference

A white mule grazing: mule and donkey 3

In developed countries, a donkey can live up to 40 years, but more or less, in underdeveloped countries, they live for 20-30 years on average.

While a mule’s life span can be anywhere between 35 years and 50 years, they live on average for 40 years, but when looked after nicely, a mule can have a life of 50 years as well. (Also read What Dinosaur Has 500 Teeth?)

Although the mule and donkey are different from each other in various aspects, they are very much alike when looks are considered. Except for the difference in height and the tails, they can easily be confused with each other. But now you can thoroughly differentiate between the two. Apart from the mule, there are several other farm hybrid animals as well. (Also read What is the Difference between Possum and Raccoon)

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