The mule is perhaps the best known and most widely used hybrid of two mammal species. Its history is long, since thousands of years ago. But what is a mule?
The mule is the result of mating a male donkey with a mare. Mating can take place naturally, where donkeys and horses live together, or it can be done through human intervention, which either puts the two partners together in the same enclosure or artificially inseminates the female horse with the donkey’s genetic material. Mules have always existed, intentionally or accidentally.
The little mule is characterized by what specialists call the “vigor of the hybrid.” That is, the hybrid borrows the best characteristics of the species from which the parents come. The mule inherited endurance, strength, intelligence, patience, perseverance, and self-control, from the donkey, and the athletic abilities, beauty, and speed from the horse.
How Much Does A Mule Cost?
If you are thinking about buying a mule then you should know that its price starts at around $1,000 and can go up to $8,500. However, the majority of the mules are sold at prices anywhere between $1,200 and $3,300. The costs are influenced by some factors such as the age of the animal, the number of competitions won, the number of appearances in shows, and how well it is trained.
When it comes to physical appearance, it is obvious that it is a combination of horse and donkey. The body retains the elegant shapes of the horse, is a little longer, and maybe a little more robust. The donkey’s genes are best seen in the head area. The head is large and thick, with large “donkey-like” ears. The mane is shorter than that of the horse, but the tail retains its characteristics.
The dimensions of the mule vary and are directly proportional to those of the parents. Depending on the breed of horses and donkeys that were used for hybridization, we can have dwarf, heavy, or very athletic mules. The color of the robe is varied and is in accordance with the characteristics of the parents. However, it lacks the black dorsal stripes of the donkey. Even his vocalizations are a combination of horse and donkey.
Mules are completely sterile animals. This is the main difference between mules and horses. The sterility of mules is in fact a direct consequence of the fact that both parents of this hybrid belong to different species. Mules are produced for a single purpose, namely to be used for intensive work.
Mules live as long as donkeys or horses, reaching even 30 to 40 years of age.
What are the extra costs?
When purchasing a mule you should know that there are some extra costs besides its purchasing cost. You should consider the shoeing, the feeding, and the vet costs as well.
Every mule needs shoes and these have to be replaced every two to three months. Plan on spending around $75 every time you replace your mule’s shoes. You can cut these costs in half if you choose to do this job yourself and not hire a professional.
Expect to spend anywhere between $110 and $160 per month for the hay, in order to feed your mule properly. There are farms that charge around $22 for a bale of hay. In case you have a pasture where the mule can run on, you will be able to reduce the costs of feeding.
In order to keep your mule healthy, you will have to take it to periodic vet visits. The amount of money you may spend on your mule’s health greatly depends on the way you take care of the animal.
Important things to consider
It is often said of mules that they are stubborn. In fact, this is more about intelligence. The mules are smarter than horses, a quality inherited from the donkey, and will never act in such a way as to endanger their lives (a positive thing for the owner, who avoids danger). Mules will always stop when they do not feel safe, when the terrain seems dangerous, unlike horses that go on until death. The ability to discern between good and evil and the strong instinct of self-preservation have attracted the label of stubborn animals.
Mules are more resistant than horses, both in terms of effort and in terms of diseases and parasites. Mules eat less and are less demanding on food. It has been shown that donkeys have the same ability to manage water reserves as camels, a quality inherited by the mule. The thicker skin and fur, as well as the innate resistance, allow the mule to adapt to extreme environmental conditions, very hot or very cold, so it is preferred instead of horses in many parts of the world.
How can I save money?
If you are lucky enough you may be able to purchase a cheap mule from a owner that is just tired of the stubborn behavior of the animal.