I remember being in high school when the subject of mules was brought up, and I was shocked by my classmates’ shock that donkeys and mules were not the same thing. My school was relatively rural, but no one knew that mules were a hybrid creation of horses and donkeys. So let me say it here:
Mules are hybrid animals.
They are not a breed or an animal you would typically find in the wild. Mules are the result of crossing a female horse with a male donkey. The offspring of a female donkey and a male horse is called a hinny, but they are relatively rare.
Maybe female donkeys are too smart for stallions. It wouldn’t shock me. But the vast majority of donkey/horse hybrids are the result of a male donkey and a female horse, aka a mule.
There are three typical kinds of donkeys in the US: the mini donkey, the standard donkey, and the Mammoth Jack. There is also a rare breed of donkey in France called the Poitou donkey. They are comparable in size to the Mammoth Jack, but they are recognizable because of their “dreadlocks”. They kinda resemble Puli dogs.
For size comparison, this is a mini donk.
A standard, which is most common across the world.
and a Mammoth (next to a mini)
A female donkey is called a Jenny. A male donkey is called a Jack. And <insert jack ass joke here>. Most donkeys come in the typical “dun” coloring, be it brown or gray over their body with white shading on their legs and under their belly/head. However, some donks are spotted.
Mules come in a variety of shapes and sizes, usually dependent upon their mother’s coloring and size. Draft mares are used to get draft mules. Mini mares and mini donkeys are used to get mini mules. There are all kinds of colors of mules, and there are gaited mules as well. Here are a variety of mule types possible.
A “Mawari” mule (its dam would be a Mawari horse, known for their pointy ears)
Why a Mule? Donkeys are much more intelligent than horses, which is why they have a reputation of being stubborn. They’re far less likely to be spooky, and they tend to look at things before they freak out and bolt in the opposite directions. They are much more curious and many claim they’re friendlier and calmer than horses. However, donkeys aren’t the greatest animals to ride, and they tend to be small, so people who want the calm nature of the donkey along with the physical agility of a horse might want a mule. Mules and donkeys excel at climbing, being sure-footed with smaller, harder hooves that can more easily cross rough terrain. This is why mules are used at the Grand Canyon, as opposed to horses.
How to tell the difference between a donkey and a mule?
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell, especially if the mule takes after her dad and looks a lot like a donkey. But mules tend to more closely resemble horses. Donkeys have huge heads, short necks, and tiny butts, where as mules tend to have more substantial butts, longer necks, and smaller heads. They also are less hairy.
There’s no sure way to tell, but all mules are sterile. There have been very rare instances of female mules having babies, but it’s safe to assume mules cannot produce offspring. The johns (male mules) still need to be gelded, as uncut mules still act like stallions, even if they’re shooting blanks. Female mules are called mollies.
You’ll find that many trail-riding mules cost more than their equine counterparts. People who do a lot of trail riding or farm work go crazy for mules. They can be exceptional in what they do. Donkeys and mules also make much better guard animals than horses, as they are less scared of predators. A donkey will “sound the alarm” when they see a wolf/coyote, which sounds like this:
Donkeys also make this noise to each other, or if they’re excited.
Here is a mule beating the shit out of a snake.
Zonkeys are a thing, which is a cross between a donkey and a zebra. I’m not sure the advantages this would have outside of having a cool animal to brag about. But they’re cute!
I wanted to make a webcomic that would essentially be post-zombie-apocolypse where most humans are extinct, except the virus doesn't effect animals (yet?) So it's about pets who depend on humans trying to survive, and the zombies also eat animals and not just other people. He's my thing I wanted one of the protagonists, as it's kind of a deutoragonist story, to be a dog, a Puli, who is coded as black. I asked a black friend's advice and was sent to this blog. How can I do this well?
(As a note) I considered making a “The animal characters as humans” kind of bonus picture, so that people reading would know that the canon race of the character, if she were a human, would be black. And that she’s coded as black. But I’m not sure, and am in fact pretty unsure, that that would be enough to have real representation. Which I want, while still making the story about dogs because I prefer to draw animals and drawing humans would be too rough on me in the long haul, I think. TY!
Coding Animals as Human Races
If there are other animals in the story who are coded as human races, particularly dogs, and not just this one Black person being coded as a dog, it’s alright in my eyes. What sorts of animals you code Black people and other marginalized groups matters, such as avoiding blatantly negative connotations and definitely no monkey and ape connections with Black people.
Along with treading carefully with choosing certain animals to represent PoC, you should avoid stereotypical coding methods with these animals, such as the behaviors you give certain animals (aggressive angry dog = Black) or making caricatures. For example, i’ve seen several non-human characters coded as Black by being “Sassy” and speaking AAVE with little else left to them besides that as racial markers. I’d recommend you actually develop these characters and treat them as if they were human, with fully-faceted personalities even as animals.
I also suggest you include Black humans if you do have any human characters. It sucks for Black people’s only representation to be animals, particularly in a world where there are non-animal characters.
And do be mindful of color symbolism. Think of the Lion King, the darkly-illustrated Scar as the villain vs. the other bright and light golden-skinned lions. All lions but one clearly coded as evil.