Donkeys, Burros, Mules, Jackasses – What’s the Difference?

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A beautiful young horse.
From youth till only recently, I’ve wondered “What’s the difference between donkeys, burros, mules and jackasses?” Perhaps it’s crossed your mind as well, yet you’ve never sought an answer until now. Hopefully, you will find the answer you seek in this article…

What’s a Donkey?

A domesticated donkey.
The donkey is said to come from the African wild ass. It has been used as a work animal for ages. It is a fertile animal, multiplying in the usual way.

And What’s a Burro?

A burro is a small, wild (rather than domesticated) donkey. And burro is Spanish for donkey.

Here is a 38 second video of wild burros outside Las Vegas, Nevada…

What’s Different About a Mule?

Smile, mule… You’re on Candid Camera!
A mule is a cross between a male donkey and a female horse. Generally, they are sterile, since a horse and a donkey have a different number of chromosomes.

Less common, a male horse crossed with a female donkey is a hinny. The body of a hinny somewhat resembles a donkey, but has a head more like a horse.

And a Jackass

So a jackass is an irritating human, right? Well, a male donkey is called a jack and a female is a jenny or a jennet. Hence, a jack-ass (or jackass) is a male donkey.


So what’s the difference between a vulture and a buzzard. Ah, that is another matter…

Note: You might also enjoy How the Electric Eel Produces Electricity


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8 thoughts on “Donkeys, Burros, Mules, Jackasses – What’s the Difference?


    We have a 2 year old fixed/male mule. His name is River and he is very active. So when he started slowing down one week we called the vet. They came and took blood and said his sugar level was high. Going into diabetes maybe. He has always been on grass hay, nothing rich, we feed this to our alpacas too. He would get small amount of pellets and his hay. My husband is a feeder. He would give our 2 donkeys and this mule carrots everyday. Could that sugar cause what our mule is going thru right now?

    • I am not a veterinarian, though I am a chemist and have some knowledge of, not only that, but the human body. Assuming that understanding is of value, I would say there are probably two ways of having too much sugar in the system. One is insufficient insulin. A normal diet can include such foods as you mention. If a person has too little insulin, it is essential to adjust sugar input. It’s not that the sugar (the variety of food taken in) causes the diabetes, but that once diabetes is present, it becomes necessary to make adjustments for it by reducing sugar intake and certain other caloric foods.

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