The main difference between donkey and mule is that donkey is a fertile mammal whereas mule is a sterile mammal. Donkey is a hoofed mammal with long ears, belonging to the horse family. Cross breeding between a male donkey and a female horse produces a mule.
Donkey and mule are two herbivorous mammals. Both are tetrapods and are black, gray to sable or white in color. Genetically, the donkey has 62 chromosomes; mule has 63 of them and a horse has 64 chromosomes.
Key Areas Covered
– Definition, Facts, Characteristics
– Definition, Facts, Characteristics
3. What are the Similarities Between Donkey and Mule
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Donkey and Mule
– Comparison of Key Differences
Key Terms: Chromosome Number, Donkey, Ears, Equidae, Fertility, Mule
Donkey – Definition, Facts, Characteristics
Donkey is a domesticated, hoofed mammal with long ears, and a braying call, belonging to the horse family. It is also called burro or domesticated ass. It is known to be used as a beast of burden since 4000 BSE. Donkeys live in deserts and savannahs in northern Africa from Morocco to Somalia, in the Arabian Peninsula and in the Middle East.
Donkey has a dorsal stripe from mane to tail and a crosswise stripe on its shoulders, collectively called the Christian cross. Donkeys eat grass or shrubs. The gestation period of a donkey is 12 months. Foals or baby donkeys weigh about 19-30 lbs.
Mule – Definition, Facts, Characteristics
Mule is a hybrid animal produced by a crossbred between a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare). Donkey has 62 chromosomes while a horse has 64 chromosomes. Hence, the hybrid mule has 63 chromosomes per cell. Since it is an odd chromosome number, a mule cannot produce fertile gametes. Therefore, it is generally sterile. However, a female mule may bear a fetus.
Since a mule is a hybrid animal, it bears better traits of both horses and donkeys. Physical fitness of a mule is higher than that of a donkey. The crossbred between a female donkey and a male horse gives birth to a hybrid animal called hinny.
Similarities Between Donkey and Mule
- Both donkey and mule are herbivorous mammals, who are horse-like.
- Both belong to the family Equidae.
- Both have four legs.
- Both have long faces, and ears.
- Both have a tail.
- Skin of both is covered by fur.
Difference Between Donkey and Mule
Donkey: A domesticated, hoofed mammal with long ears, and a braying call, belonging to the horse family
Mule: A hybrid animal produced by a crossbred between a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare)
Donkey: Equus asinus
Mule: Equus mulus
Donkey: A shorter face and mane, wider eyes, thin limbs, and narrow hooves – long ears are darkened at the base and tip
Mule: A long face, long ears, and harder hooves – sturdier than a horse, but muscles are smoother than a horse’s
Mule: Long than the horses’
Donkey: Cow-like tail
Mule: Horse-like tail
Donkey: Gray or dark brown. Have a ‘Christian cross’
Mule: Brown or bay-colored
Fifth Lumber Vertebrae
Mule: Some may have
Donkey: Strays off alone and pairs later
Mule: Qualities such as patience, sure-footedness, obstinacy, and intelligence
Height and Weight
Donkey: Height ranges from 90-180 cm. Weight ranges from 180-1060 lbs.
Mule: Taller than a donkey. Weight ranges from 820-1000 lbs.
Donkey: The lifespan varies between 30-50 years
Mule: The lifespan is about 50 years
Number of Chromosomes per Somatic Cell
Donkey: Has 62 chromosomes
Mule: Has 63 chromosomes
Mule: Generally sterile
Mule: Jack or John
Donkey is a fertile animal while a mule is a sterile one. Donkey belongs to the horse family. A crossbred between a male donkey and a female horse gives birth to a hybrid mule. The main difference between donkey and mule is their fertility.
1. “Donkey.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 30 Mar. 2017, Available here.
2. “What Is a Mule?” The Donkey Sanctuary, 2 Aug. 2016, Available here.
1. “Donkey 1 arp 750px” (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Juancito” By w:User:Dario u / User:Dario urruty – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
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