By Jhoanna Lardizabal

Since it’s National Mule Day, let’s take time to learn a thing or two about this big-eared animal. Here are 10 interesting facts you probably didn’t know about the mule.

Fact #1: Handsome hybrid. A mule is a hybrid cross of a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare). It is similar to a hinny, which is the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey.

Fact #2: War hero. During the 2nd Anglo-Afghan war, mules were used by the armies to transport supplies, to fire small cannons, and to pull heavy field guns.

Fact #3: Comes in all sizes (fun size, too!). Mules have different sizes which can be light, medium, or even heavyweight. The weight range for a mule is about 460 kg–that makes them capable of carrying live weight up to 160 kg. Also, don’t be surprised to find miniature mules that range under 3 ft tall.

Fact #4: Unique appearance. When it comes to their appearance, it has short thick head, thin limbs, short mane, and their very evident long ears. In a mule, the donkey skeletal structure is extremely and undeniable prevalent.

Fact #5: Strange genetics. Donkeys and horses have different number of chromosomes; that makes the combination of the two often result in sterile offspring. There are no cases of existing fertile male mules. A few female mules have produced offspring, but only when mated with a horse or donkey.

Fact #6: Hard workers. Historically, mules were used as a “pack and draft” animal. They are used for riding and farming, mainly as transportation for agricultural products. Also, it was George Washington who first bred the mule in United States and up until now, it can be seen in the Southeastern states and all around the globe.

Fact #7: Mules are strong creatures. Compared to the horse, they are known to have more stamina, can carry and pull more weight, and requires less food as well. Their strength and intelligence are perhaps due to the hybrid vigor coming from their parental species.

Fact #8: Mules are very smart creatures. They are often labeled “stubborn,” but this is probably because of an abundance of common sense and a strong desire for self-preservation than anything else.

Fact #9: They are surprisingly patient. Yes, this doesn’t make sense after number eight. But hear us out. Mules are actually patient and tolerant like a donkey. They are also courageous, vigorous, and strong like a horse. Even though they have the enviable ability of kicking in any direction, they can lessen it or not do it at all if they are treated with patience and understanding.

Fact #10: Mules have a long lifespan. They can live until they get to the age of 50. Though, 35 and 40 years are the average lifespan for mules, they are known to live until 50 years of age.