Mule

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A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse.[1] Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of chromosomes. Of the two F1 hybrids between these two species, a mule is easier to obtain than a hinny (the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey). All male mules and most female mules are infertile.

The size of a mule and work to which it is put depends largely on the breeding of the mule's dam. Mules can be lightweight, medium weight, or even, when produced from draught horse mares, of moderately heavy weight.[2]

An aficionado of the mule claims that they are "more patient, sure-footed, hardy and long-lived than horses, and they are considered less obstinate, faster, and more intelligent than donkeys."[3]

A female mule that has estrus cycles and thus, in theory, could carry a fetus is called a "molly" or "Molly mule," though the term is sometimes used to refer to female mules in general. Pregnancy is rare, but can occasionally occur naturally as well as through embryo transfer. One of several terms for a gelded mule is a "John mule."

Contents

Biology

Size and performance

The median weight range for a mule is between about 370 and 460 kg (820 and 1,000 lb).[4] Although it depends on the individual animal, an army mule can "carry up to 72 kg and walk 26 km without resting."[5] In general, a mule can be packed with "dead weight" of up to 20% of its body weight, or approximately 90 kg (200 lb).[6] The average equine in general can carry up to approximately 30% of its body weight in "live" weight, such as a rider.[7] However, while a few mules can carry live weight up to 160 kg (350 lb) the superiority of the mule becomes apparent in their additional endurance.[6]

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