Mules are a genetic hybrid that has been the workhorse for centuries in human society. It combines all the essential qualities of both breeds (horse and donkey) into a single animal, which is a focus of agricultural pursuits throughout the world.
It is stronger than a horse and gentler than a donkey. Kindly read further to know more about a mule.
Table of Contents
- Scientific classification
- Reproduction and life span
- Facts about mule
|Scientific Name||Equus mulus|
The resulting genetic fusion between a stallion and a donkey is responsible for the appearance of these animals. Although they’re generally brown or grey, horses and donkeys can come in any coat and colour found.
They are bigger than jacks and smaller than colts, but fatter. Their heads are shorter, broader, and similar to those of an ass, while their ears are longer than that of a horse but shorter than that of an ass. These animals have an average height of about 50 – 70 inches and weigh between 600 – 1,500 pounds.
Miniature animals weighing around 50 pounds were bred, and the largest recorded male weighed approximately 2,200 pounds. The weight varies from a male bulldog of average size to the weight of two grizzly bears placed together. The biggest and heaviest mule, known as Apollo, has a height of about 77 inches.
The temperament of these animals was the goal that breeders were trying to attain when the attributes of colts and jacks were combined. They have the strength and toughness of a donkey, blended with their parents’ combined temperaments.
Stallions tend to be flighty, or easily spooked, while jacks are considered to be stubborn and hard to handle. The mule is a beast that is stolid, patient, and even-tempered.
Mules can be found on every continent. Antarctica, as well as their breeding, has made them fit to handle almost all climates. With their tougher skin, they are less likely to overheat compared to a stallion and require less food than a horse, making it easier to forage.
Mules are a species created by humans and, as such, have no natural habitat. They can be found everywhere that humans carried them.
The major challenges faced by them is sickness. Similar diseases such as tetanus, Eastern equine encephalomyelitis, and equine influenza are all faced by stallions, donkeys, and mules.
Appropriate treatment of mules, routine veterinary check-ups, and vaccine programs will help to avoid or at least reduce the effects of contracting these diseases. Since they are mostly domestic animals, they normally do not face a threat from any predator.
Mules are no different from their parents concerning their diet. They ingest a broad range of grasses and small shrubs.
If they do not have enough area to feed on (usually 1 – 2 acres), then hay, grain, or hydrated lime food will supplement their diet.
Another effect of the hybridization of the species is that they only need a fraction of the amount of food that is required to feed a stallion, while they maintain the size of a colt. Mule spends most of their day eating or sleeping if they aren’t working.
Reproduction and life span
Mules are bred by cross-breeding a mare with a jack, as mentioned above. After a gestational period of about 11 – 12 months, the mare gives birth to a baby mule, called a foal.
The average mule is about 30 years old, but there have been mules that have lived well into their 40s. Mules are generally considered infertile. However,hinneys have had cases of pregnancy.
The primary cause for this infertility is as a result of the different structure and numbers preventing the chromosomes from pairing up properly and creating a successful embryo.
Mules and hinnies have 63 chromosomes, while donkeys and horses have 62 and 64 chromosomes respectively. This result in mule’s reproductive incompatibility.
The mule species live on six of the seven continents, with the exception of Antarctica. They live almost entirely in human care because they are unable to breed in the wild to support a feral herd because of the above-discussed fertility problems.
Reliable population numbers are almost difficult to achieve. Still, in the U.S, as of 1998, an alleged discovery of approximately 200,000 mules residing in the United States alone were registered by the Department of Agriculture. As a species of primary significance, mules are confidential.
Facts about mule
The male is called a mule, and the female is referred to as a hinney. These animals were purposely created during ancient times to show the combine qualities of a horse and a donkey.
Mules are barren because of the chromosomal defects formed during the breeding process, but when bred with stallions or donkeys, hinnies occasionally have produced foals.
Mules are popular attractions in zoos all over the United States. Akin to their fair temperament, they are also used in petting zoos as well.
There are also several mules in the San Diego Zoo, and recently there have also been a few donations of mules to CalFire to be used as pack animals in remote wasteland areas of the state to help defeat wildfires.