I came upon an interesting quote after going down the rabbit hole on a variety of subjects. While deep in the data, I came upon this quote

oat and farm animal owners likes to have mules with their herds because donkeys or mules will actually attack predatory animals such as foxes and coyotes.

Which raised quite a few questions in my mind. I was able to find additional sources as it relates to the predisposition of the given species.

Seemingly, donkeys and mules will act aggressively in confrontation with predators and attempt to attack to the point of killing many of them. Is there something about the physiology of a donkey/mule that makes them much less timid? Perhaps body structure? Seemingly a horse has equal or even better tools to try and defend itself.

Here are the sources (the first 2 are not the most authoritative by any means):

  • $\begingroup$ I was able to find additional sources Can you please indicate these sources? $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Apr 19 '19 at 11:33
  • $\begingroup$ It has been completed $\endgroup$ – hisairnessag3 Apr 19 '19 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ Different organisms evolve different behaviors, evolution is a whatever works kind of designer. it can influenced by all kinds of things, social behavior, what kinds of predators there are, offspring care needs, herd size, and a hundred other things. $\endgroup$ – John Apr 21 '19 at 14:08
  • $\begingroup$ We know what wild donkeys are like because they still exist in Africa, population 570, and they are more like small zebra's than horses. Wild horses are from Eurasian grasslands and have all been captured for domestication and eaten, so current wild horses are feral. The are completely different animals, they diverged 5-10 million years ago. They are much more genetically distant than a wolf, labrador and an alsatian, and their habitat and behaviours are completely different, including the dung strategy of donkeys and the semi-desert versus steppe habitat. $\endgroup$ – aliential Apr 22 '19 at 9:35
  • $\begingroup$ Horses have specialized in running away from predators, they are generally a bit faster than donkeys and today's horses tend to often be more slender, like deer. Donkeys are more stout and probably adapted for different predators, terrains and climates, so they perhaps more likely to form group and kick rather then outrun the wolves/lions/tigers that would have preyed on them in the past. It's probably best to post on a forum with people that have studied horses and donkeys for 20-40 years because they know a lot more about them. $\endgroup$ – aliential Apr 22 '19 at 9:35

Perhaps they have significantly more developed aggression circuits? Maybe the parts of the brain responsible for producing aggressive behavior are excited by hormones which are much more prevalent in donkeys?

Unless you want to dismiss the causal role of biology in animal behavior, the answer to the question "Is there something about the physiology of a donkey/mule that makes them much less timid?" is "obviously yes". We just don't know what. But it is always physiology at the end of the day.

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