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Are donkeys horses or a separate species?

Last Reviewed and Updated on July 27, 2022

They kind of look like horses, and they can do most things a horse can. Are donkeys horses? Or are they their own species of animal? Let’s take a closer look and examine the relations between these two magnificent animals.

Are donkeys horses or a separate species?

A donkey and a horse are two separate species, but they are very closely related. In fact, they are so closely related that they can be bred together and produce mules and hinnies.

Under the Equus genus, horses are under the subgenus called Equus, and the species is Equus ferus.

Donkeys fall under the subgenus Asinus and the donkey species are; Equus africanus, Equus hemionus, and Equus kiang.

Both animals (as well as zebra) are from the same family of animals called the Equidae. These animals share a common ancestor, believed to have lived 4 million years ago. All members of this family originate from North America.

There are many similarities between a horse and a donkey. The build of the animals is similar, although donkeys are smaller.

Horses are faster than donkeys are, and donkeys are more territorial than horses are.

There is also one obvious difference on the genetic level; horses have 64 chromosomes while donkeys have 62 chromosomes.

Loved learning about donkeys? You will love this list of donkey facts.

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