Bring out the inner nerd! So, I am not one who cares much about coloration on my babies, so long as they are healthy and edible. Because of the complexities, there are over 1024 different combinations of rabbit colors possible. However, now that Magicians latest litter is growing in their fur, what I thought was a white baby actually has some really awesome fawn/yellow colored spots. So, I am starting to dig.
This pattern, known as a broken pattern, is common with English Spot rabbits (Magician is a cross). However, we can extrapolate some information about genetics of the mother and potentially the father based on the colors that we have.
Now, color is very complicated, so I am going to refer you to Three Ladies Rabbitry for more detail on coloration. There are five genes that control color, A, B, C (Crazy complicated), D, and E. For my purebred American Chinchillas, this game doesn’t impact them much, as they are all chinchilla colored (though some have blue eyes).
So, for my purposes, I am going to be looking at my buck first, as I have a total of 11 kits to work with from the last week. He is a 3/4 New Zealand, 1/4 Flemish Giant mix. As with genetics, there is the color that you see (what is dominant), and another trait that is carried that cannot be seen, which could be a recessive trait, or another copy of the dominant trait.
This is Buckbeak (aka Beaky). So now, we can examine his individual genes, which come in pairs.
A: The A gene is the typical wild rabbit color pattern. Rabbits with this gene would have white bellies, white eye circles and white on the underside of the tail. The individual hairs on a rabbit possessing the A gene will have color bands. If you blow on the back of the rabbit you will see circular bands of color, this is a result of this gene. All of my current breeding rabbits have this gene, so he is for sure an A, but I don’t know what the second gene is, so he is
B: There are only two genes in this gene set, B (black) which is dominant and b (chocolate) which is recessive. Colors in the B (black) set include black, blue, tort, sable point, and chinchilla, since Beaky is chinchilla colored, he has at least one black carrier. So he is
C: Super complicated… This series of genes will determine how full the color is in you rabbit. The most dominant gene in the set is the C, which will have your rabbit showing full color, and the recessive trait is c, which is essentially an albino showing no color. There are five different genes in this set: C, cchd, cchl, ch and c.
Beaky is not a C or a c, as he has ringed coloration. He also is not a ch, as those are rabbits with points on them (like the Californian or Himalayan). The cchd and cchl genes have co-dominance. The cchd is known as the chinchilla gene, or chinchilla dark. The chinchilla gene will allow the production of some but not all of the color pigment in your rabbit. If your rabbit is an agouti, white bands will appear between the dark color bands. This gene will also affect eye color and can produce rabbits with blue eyes. The other cchl removes yellow from the hair shaft, and some darker pigmentation, leaving the rabbit with a shaded look. Unlike the chinchilla dark gene, this gene will leave the eye color dark. I am going to go with cchd for now.
D: Only two genes: full strength of color D, and d, which is diluted color. Since the D gene is dominant if the gene set is DD or Dd the rabbit will show full strength of color. The only way to have diluted color is if both genes in the set are d (dd). The dilute will weaken the color in full color rabbits. For example, Black dilutes to blue, and brown dilutes to lilac. This gene will affect eye color as well.
Beaky is full strength of color, so he is a
E: This gene determines if the color is extended all the way to the end of the hair shaft, or if the color stops at some point on the hair shaft and another color finishes. I found this one to be the most complicated, as chinchillas have so many colors on them. They are in full extension, which is E. But there is also a complication called steel, which is Es (dominant over full extension), which causes the undercolor to go all the way up the hair shaft, wiping out the white belly in the A gene. The tips can be gold or silver. Others are e and ej (Harlequin, not an issue for us), and e (two colored fur).
Beaky has full saturation, so he is an
So beaky is an A_B_cchd_D_E_.
We can try to fill in our gaps by profiling our does, and their offspring…