COLOR GENETICS IN RABBITS
I love color expression in angoras. I always want to know what genes are doing what, and I sporadically apply myself to learning more. I have recently seen blacks in my barn that are not dark, and have been wondering what code they might be, and what to NAME them. They do have black faces and brown eyes, but white hairs in their coats and coats that now, aged 2-3 years, are almost white. But more about black rabbits later...
The Wee Fellow is a tortoiseshell (torte) pattern. This a one of the SELF color patterns that rabbits exhibit. There are many variations in tortes! These variations are lighter/darker/redder/whiter/blonder tinged with brown/tinged with smoky charcoal/tinged with soft brown/tinged with silver and then there is a whole group of almost white rabbits that have the torte pattern as a basis for their color! And then there are many MODIFYING genes that float in around color expression that tweak parts of it. So, a rabbit's color is more than the sum of the genetic code in letters. There is a torte color and then an EXCELLENT torte color.
Basic color genetics works like this.....All rabbits have a full range of 2 colors available to them to use in making up their coat/skin/eye/toenail colors: black and yellow (white is the absence of ALL color). The ABCDE code will arrange the color as it wants:
(Capitals are dominant traits in that group)
A Agouti and a self at marten
B Black and b chocolate
C Color and c no color (white) also chl and chd and ch (some color genes)
D Dark and d dilute
E color Extended fully along color shaft and e no Extension of black and also Es (steel) Ej (harlequin)
Each rabbit gets one set of each letter, but can get combos in lower/uppercase.
(We can make color combinations up all day....)
many times we do not have a clear understanding of a rabbit's genetic code, but by looking at the rabbit, we can assume a lot. When there are hidden possibilities, the unknown is written as a (-), so a black rabbit that is REALLY
aaBBCCDdEe (but we don't know that)can be written aaB-C-D-E-
The dominant genes express themselves no matter what.
Chl, chd and ch work together. (There are other rules here..will add to this list as time goes on.....please add your comments!)
Tortoiseshell patterns all share one thing....they have 2 "ee" genes. What those "ee" genes do is keep the color BLACK from "extending" itself past the extremities of the rabbit (face/feet/tail/haunches/ears). So you get a rabbit with a dark "mask" who's body is a gold (or creme)color of some sort.
Tortoiseshell code is:
Chocolate Tortoiseshell code:
Lilac Tortoiseshell code:
aabbC-ddee (Wee Fellow.....now named NEO!)
Blue Tortoiseshell code
This gets complicated, but just keep at it.
Posted by countrywool
at 7:41 AM EDT