//Mules and Hinnies: Differences and similarities.
Photograph of a Hinny

Mules and Hinnies: Differences and similarities.

In nature we encounter otherwise surprising situations. A surprising case in the case of equines the most well-known case is that of the Mule. The Mule is a horse-donkey hybrid. But in this world, there is much more than that because, just as there is the Mule, there is also the little-known animals called Hinnies, but what is a Hinny? In this article we will know we will let you know.

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Hybrid beings are “mixtures” of living beings with different genetics but whose similarities are so high that they allow us to engender descendants. In plants we get the phenomenon of grafts. Grafts are crosses between plants that allow to obtain mixed characteristics (size of plant A and flavor of plant B for example).

It is important to note that the fruits of grafts generally do not possess seeds or the seeds are poor and deformed resulting in an inability to reproduce the grafted plant.

Likewise in the animal kingdom hybrid beings are possible. When two animals with high genetic similarity are crossed, it is possible that they can conceive of a descendant. In general when they are not the same species these hybrid animals turn out to be infertile in the likeness of plant grafts. This is the case of mules and hinnies who generally turn out to be infertile animals. But what is the difference between Mules and Hinnies? Here is what we’ll find out in this article.

With this we went into the details of talking about these fabulous hybrid animals, the mule and the hinny.

Mules and horses and a mule bray

What are mules and Hinnies.

Both the mule and the hinny are horse-donkey hybrids. The difference in its conception is as follows:

  • The mule: It is the conception of a hybrid between a mare (female horse) and a male donkey. It is more common because the mare has better conditions to give birth to such a hybrid. The hinny has a small difference in its conception.
  • The Hinny: It is the conception of a hybrid between a female donkey and a stallion (male horse). It is less common because its characteristics make it less attractive for reproduction and breeding. In addition, the female donkey because of its size has greater difficulties to carry the birth to term.

97% of the genetics between the donkey and the horse is common. But while the donkey has 62 chromosomes, the horse has 64 chromosomes. This implies that a mule or a hinny has 63 chromosomes which makes it odd. This is one of the elements that makes it frequently infertile. The development of the reproductive organs is limited or atrophied in most cases.

In this aspect, the female donkey has a smaller size and must carry in its belly the gestation of the hinny which has a larger size. This leads to complications during the gestation process. These pregnancies hardly come to fruition. In addition, the development of the hinny is limited by the size of the matrix.

The term mule was formerly used interchangeably to refer to both animals. With the passage of time, the knowledge and learning of genetics began to differentiate the two.

It began to refer as a mule to the most successful in terms of reproduction for reasons that we will see later. This is how the mule is stronger, healthier, better size and easier to raise than the hinny.

Mules and hinnies
Mules and hinnies

General similarities

As similarities we find some characteristics that both have as:

  • Both animals have a thick, short head.
  • The ears of both animals are long, but there are differences that we will see later.
  • The hooves of both hinnies and mules are small and narrow.
  • As for the fur, both have a short mane and the tail do not have hairs at birth.

Just as there are many similarities, it is true that there are many differences that we will delve into later. This is because the parents of the hinnies and the mule have a genetic similarity of 97%. Both morphologically and genetically are similar and therefore their descendants, without differentiating the type of hybridization, will be similar.

So much so that, from the point of view of taxonomy, the donkey and the horse belong to the genus Equus. This is a sign of their genetic closeness. This is because they have a common ancestor, a horse dating from the Middle Pleistocene. All this explains the enormous genetic and morphological similarities of donkeys and horses and the possibility of their reproduction. In the same way he explains the similarities between mules and hinnies without a doubt.

However, it must be said that the mule has more similarities with the phenotype of the equine. This is how they resemble in height and shape of the neck and body in general. Also, their fur and teeth are more uniform.

Historically the mule has been a means of transporting humans and for cargo. It has also been used in agricultural tasks. This has been thanks to his endurance, strength and docility.

Next, we will delve a little into their common ancestor and the common roots of these animals.

Photo of a mule
Photo of a mule

Fertility of hybrid animals

Chromosomal oddity means that chromosomes cannot be evenly distributed during cell division by meiosis. It is precisely this point that makes mules and hinnies infertile.

Although all mule males are sterile, some female mules have been found to be fertile. Whether these female mules are fertile will depend on which animal the mountain will be its offspring:

  • If the mule is mounted by a horse it will beget a colt.
  • If the mule is mounted by an ass or donkey it will give birth to a baby donkey.

It is also difficult to get a donkey or a horse to decide to ride a female mule. A reproductive problem that is even more complicated than with the donkey.

Another problem is that the mule has difficulty getting her offspring to completion. In case the foals tend to be too big. In addition, the calf tends to be born weaker and sifest than its congeners.

Mule Photograph
Mule Photograph

Similarities between mules and hinnies.

Both in their morphology are similar to the horse. Sometimes with longer or shorter legs but in general their shape is quite similar. Both have the same organs and similar complexion. This also has to do with the similarities between donkeys and horses. What you get is an intermediate point between the previous ones.


Differences between mules and hinnies.

Although there are more similarities than the differences between mules and hinnies, in order to differentiate them we will emphasize the differences below:

  • Head: Mules look more like the donkey in its head being this short and thick. In the case of hinnies them head are thin and thin, similar to that of the horses, more proportionate in this aspect.
  • Ears: Mules ears are longer donkey-like. The ears of the hinnies are medium-length but their shape is more similar to that of the horse.
  • Members: The mule has fine donkey-like limbs. The hinny has thicker limbs than those of the mule but remain thin.
  • Hooves: The hooves of the mule are narrow and small more similar to those of the donkey. The hinny, on the other hand, has thicker hooves.
  • Mane: This one on the mules is short to resemble that of the donkey. The mane of the hinnies is more abundant in resemblance to the tail.
  • Height: In the case of height, the hinny is more similar to that of a donkey and the height of the mule is more similar to that of the horse.
  • Body: The shape of the body of the mules is more similar to that of his father, the horse. The body of the hinnies is large, disproportionate to their legs. Although the shape of the hinny’s body is that of the horse, the skeleton has to be that of the donkey.
Differences between mules and hinnies
Differences between mules and hinnies

Other significant differences

  • Neck: The shape of the neck of the hinny is similar to that of the donkey and similarly the shape of the neck of the mule is similar to that of the horse.
  • Teeth: The teeth of the hinnies are similar to those of the donkey and those of the mules correspond to the phenotype of the horse.
  • Tail: The tail of the hinny is more populated than that of the mule.
  • Size: Hinnies tend to be lower than mules but taller than donkeys.

The size of the hinny is considered to be limited by the size of the womb of his mother’s female donkey. Being smaller tends to limit its development and even decreases the chances of successful reproduction.

Photograph of a Hinny
Photograph of a Hinny

Needs for work.

The male hinnies and mules are sterile. Even so these animals possess high doses of testosterone so their sexual appetite can become elevated. This can also make them more difficult to control. That is why both male hinnies and mules are castrated to avoid their sexual appetite and make them more docile for the job.

Do you know the difference in a mule and a hinny?

How to differentiate between mules and hinnies? The differences between a mule and a hinny

Although there are numerous differences between mules and hinnies, sometimes it is not so easy to differentiate a mule from a hinny. That is why today we will give you some tips to differentiate them, either because you are going to acquire one for work or for reasons of curiosity.

Remember that both animals are sterile, so it makes no sense to acquire them to reproduce them. But their differences can be crucial in selecting them for specific jobs. Here are some primary signs you can use to differentiate a hinny from a mule:

  1. The ears: It is one of the most visible signs of the animal and that we can use as a reference. The mule’s ears are longer and resembling those of the donkey. Meanwhile, the ears of the hinny are shorter and like to a horse. In addition, the ears of the mules are more pricked.
  2. Tail: The tail of the hinny is thicker than that of the mule. This is also a very easy to detect and visible indicative. That is why we are inclined to use it among the first to differentiate mules from hinnies.
  3. Mane: The mane of mules is thin and short. This is also quite an important sign to distinguish between mules and hinnies.
  4. Hoofs and legs: The legs of mules are straighter and thus more like those of a donkey. Hoofs are small and very hard, rather than having a tilt, they tend to be very upright.

With these 4 visual elements we can distinguish between a mule and a hinny to differentiate them.

Why differentiate between a mule and a hinny?

The reason is simple, each of them has its own characteristics. These characteristics make each one ideal for different jobs. That is why it is important to know the characteristics of each one and take advantage of them according to our need.

Choosing between a mule and a hinny is important, but it is also important to know why to choose a hybrid animal and we will tell you about it below.

Hybrid animals today.

Science advances in the development of creating genetically hybrid animals. The need for organs for human beings is appealed. Ethical dilemmas, however, are the order of the day. Few countries do not prohibit these practices, let alone those that allow them. However we can see that these animals are created for the benefit of the human being, but at the same time removing some of their naturalness (leaving sterile through reproduction and castrating them through the veterinary route).

It is important to measure the consequences of these actions in the future if we want to have one. Science fiction has portrayed the dangers of this situation through films such as “the planet of the apes”.

Gustavo Mirabal and his wife Carolina Chapellín de Mirabal seek to publicize what refers to the equine and equestrian world. In this way give the horse and its genetic relatives the place they deserve in today’s society. It is also a way to raise awareness of the future and its ramifications. Through their social networks such as Gustavo Mirabal’s account on Pinterest they seek to show us another face of horses and their lives.

However, although fears are there, the hybridization of animals has accompanied us by time immemorial. We must only seek to move forward carefully and not neglect in the process to protect the rights of animals.

In the meantime the mules and the hinnies will be there to accompany us in our work as their parents have horses and donkeys. Let us learn to dream with hope and build our future with caution.

Until the next…


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