Have you ever wondered where donkeys come from? Many people believe they are a species of their own, while others lump them in with mules and horses. So, people are often left asking if donkeys can reproduce. The answer is yes, they can and do, but there’s more to the story. Read on to learn more!

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What Is a Donkey?

A donkey is a four-legged animal that is often used as a working animal or beast of burden. Donkeys are related to horses and zebras, and they are members of the horse family, Equidae. There are several species of donkey, including the African wild ass, the Somali wild ass, and the Asiatic wild ass.

Donkeys come in a range of colors, from light gray to black. They have long ears and a short mane. Male donkeys are called jacks, while female donkeys are called jennies. A baby donkey is called a foal.

There are many different types of donkeys, but all share a common set of characteristics. Donkeys are sure-footed and known for their stamina. They are intelligent and can be trained to perform a variety of tasks.

grey donkey standing in the field
Image Credit: DragoNika, Shutterstock

Can Donkeys Reproduce?

Yes, donkeys can reproduce. Some people believe that donkeys cannot reproduce, but this is because donkeys and mules are commonly mistaken for one another. A donkey is not a mule. People who own donkeys say that it often takes more time for donkeys to reproduce. Females carry a foal for around 11–14 months; however, 12 months is more common. It is because of that time frame it is a bit harder to know when the female will give birth.

Are Donkeys and Mules the Same Animal?

Nope! Donkeys and mules are not the same animal. Mules are a genetic blend of a donkey and a horse. When you look at a mule, you can see the physical differences. Mules are taller, thanks to the horse genes. Due to the fact that mules are a result from a horse and donkey mating, they cannot reproduce because they are always born infertile. A male and female mule cannot breed and produce offspring. Even if they are breed with other animals, like a donkey or horse, they will not reproduce.

close up grey donkey outdoors
Image Credit: Helga Madajova, Shutterstock

Male Donkey vs Female Donkey

If a female donkey and a stallion (male horse) mate, their offspring is often called a mule; however, if you want to be technical, the offspring would be called a “hinny”. But, usually, to avoid confusion, all donkey and horse offspring are usually called mules.

Can Donkeys Reproduce With Other Animals?

Since donkeys can reproduce with horses, they can reproduce with similar animals (just not with a mule). Donkeys and zebras can reproduce, creating a hybrid called a “zonkey” or “zeedonk”. However, like mules, zonkeys/zeedonks cannot produce offspring.

close up donkey standing outdoors
Image Credit By: Natalie Grimmett, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

So, there you have it! Donkeys can (and do) reproduce. Some people might get donkeys and mules confused with each other or think the two animals are synonymous. However, they are two different animals.