Coats- Satin, Rex, other...

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Keag

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So, I supposedly bought " Standard Satin" rabbits months ago. Told all female but nope 2 Bucks & 1 Doe. Once home & looking at them I thought 1. Mix, 2. Underage, 3. Mini Satin.
Now 2 litters later & 10 kits later I have found 1 kit that has a distinctly different coat. It feels like my Rex Coats. It is short, dense, & plushy feeling. No longer guard hairs. It catches the light differently & I can tell immediately of the 3 "blacks" which one it is.

Genetically what coat types are there? Would my prediction of the parents being "mixed" be right or does the "Satin" breed have an "incorrect" "plush" coat?

I will get pictures later.
 

judymac

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There are some fascinating coat variations, most of which I've only read about, not seen. The satin gene is a recessive, and I've seen a lot of variation. Some of my satins have fabulous sheen, others not so much, even though both parents are satins. I think there must be some sort of modifier gene that determines the exact structure of the fiber, as to how well it actually transmits/reflects the light through the hair.

Angora of course is another recessive, and again, there is great variation in the fiber. I might mate two very soft coated angoras and get offspring with coarse guard hairs. I understand from Robinson's genetic work with rabbits that there is a definite difference between the coats of rabbits that have been bred pure for many generations, and more recent crosses (usually to add some other trait such us color or body type) to non-angoras, and also the odd longer-wooled rabbit that just pops up in an otherwise short-haired litter. The 'wooly' rabbits had shorter hair than angora, not as fine, and not as dense. I think that would also apply to the satin crosses, where the fiber may have some of the satin characteristics, but not all and not consistently in the same way.

Besides that, there is the wavy 'Astrex' gene, that introduces swirly curl into the mix. I believe it is a Rex offshoot. I've never seen a 'wuzzy', a mutation that has a bit longer fiber that mats together in sections, the description sounded a bit like short dreadlocks to me. There's also some hairless genes bouncing around, but that doesn't fit into this discussion either. I'm not seeing anything else that should give what you are describing, although I have read that people are working with Satin Rex, perhaps your stock had some of that mixed in?

It sounds to me like you have every reason to doubt the status of your 'satins', as nothing else you were told seems to be accurate, not the age or the sex. Since I have Satin Angora, I can't say whether sport Rex type coats happen in regular Satin rabbits. I do know that after breeding many generations in a breed, the characteristics should be rather standardized, with some variation of course, but less and less 'sports' showing up. Since Satins have been around for almost a hundred years, you would think by now there would be less variation than I'm seeing.
 

Keag

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Thank you judymac. I have not found much info on coat genetics of rabbits & really nothing on YouTube.
Is there a classification of coats like
Short
Satin
Plush
Longhair
Wooly
Etc...

Would this classification standard apply across all breeds or do different breeds adopt different terms?
 

Keag

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I did take video but said "file to large". Here are some pictures instead of the "plush" coat with the other coats.
 

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judymac

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Like most things in the rabbit world, there are some basic terms that most breeds use, but there is always room for a breed to pick their own specialized terms, just like you could have a black agouti, chestnut agouti, or a castor--they're all the same color.

I'm sure there are many variables to coats, many unnamed modifiers. As I see it, there are a few basic coat groups. One is for length of coat. According to Fur Type | rabbit-gentics, the average normal coated rabbit has hair 7/8 to 1-1/2" long, with about 14 hairs per follicle. The guard hairs typically extend beyond the down fibers.


Rex causes plush short coats, with guard hairs the same length or shorter than the down hairs. Rex may have 3-4 times the fiber density per hair follicle, giving the coat that dense, plush feeling. The rex mutation eliminates the longer guard hairs, all of the fibers are of uniform short length, 1/2-7/8" long. The description of the fiber is often 'plush' or 'velvety'. The angora mutation lengthens the hair to 3-5" long before molting. There are variations on this as well, English Angora has finer and more uniform fiber; French Angora has longer and coarser guard hairs that give Angora yarn the high fuzzy spike. German and Giant Angora (and some of the show lines of English Angora) don't molt, they need to be sheared every three months to keep up with the 1"/month growth rate of the fiber.

There are also straight vs. curly traits. The variations are rex with a curl, the wavy gene, once raised as a breed called 'Astrex; and a longer haired curled rex version with more angora traits, called 'Opossum Rex'. You can see some of the Astrex photos at Welcome to Astrex Rabbits There are even recessive genes for furless rabbits.

Another coat variation would be fiber translucency. Satin refers to the recessive trait of the fiber to have a thinner, more translucent hair. The light reflects back giving that satin shimmer and sheen.

On top of that, there are several different coat types found, depending on breed. Some, like Rex, have the straight up, dense, plush-feeling coats; here the hair stands straight up. Other variations are the fly-back and roll-back coats found on 'normal' coated rabbits. When you brush your hand the 'wrong' way up the coat from the rump towards the head, what does the coat do? If it immediately returns to lying flat, it is a 'fly-back' coat. If it takes a while to return, does it slowly over time, it's a 'roll-back' coat. Check your breed's Standard of Perfection to see what type of coat your rabbits should have. Often, you'll have kits born with the wrong coat type. My husband had to constantly check his Silver Fox kits for this. There's a forum about this, Fly back? Roll back? Fat back??

According to the Standard, Rex should have a coat 1/2-7/8" long, with 5/8" considered ideal; straight, upright, dense, springy and even length and texture throughout the coat. Satin is listed as having a coat 7/8 to 1-1/4" long, with 1 to 1-1/8" ideal; hair should have a finer diameter and translucent shimmer, silky, fine, with a very dense undercoat. Guard hairs should extend 1/8" beyond the down fibers. The standard calls for a roll-back coat, and faults a fly-back coat that snaps back into place. (My guess is that the coat the snaps immediately back lacks the extreme density the standard calls for.)

It does sound as if your one rabbit does have more of the Rex traits. It doesn't necessarily mean the kit comes from recently cross-bred stock, there are always a lot of hidden recessive traits that can pop up with the 'right' (or wrong if it's a bad trait for your breed) parent. I've been breeding several generations of black to black rabbits, trying to get a genetically homozygous black breeding pool. I sent one very dark doe to a friend as a gift. She told me yesterday the black doe threw 'polka-dotted' (her words, not sure what pattern she is referring to) kits. I have no idea which buck she was bred to, as the does are in a colony, but there is indeed a booted tricolor harlequin way back in the pedigree of this doe. I've had nothing but self-colored rabbits, no sign of harlequin in several generations of breeding, yet crossed with her buck, up it pops. I'm guessing her fawn buck did the deed, as fawn is recessive to harlequin, and any kits that got the recessive harlequin from mom, would express it. If it was a broken fawn buck, she may have indeed had tricolor harlequin kits. It does raise a concern about my black line though, I thought it was free of the harlequin recessive, but apparently not. I'm probably going to have to start a new black line with different genetics.

I guess this is where you are with your Satins. You see some things that don't seem to meet what you expect from Satin rabbits, like the odd-coat. Now perhaps it simply has even more density than your original rabbits, and it is a good thing. Is the coat perfectly straight, or does it eventually roll back? One thing that the forum link noted, was that different colors seem to have different coat traits. I noticed this when I raised sheep. I had a weird spotted breed called Jacob sheep, white with patches of black. The white always grew longer and crimpier than the black, which was shorter and more wiry, all on the same sheep! They looked quilted when in full coat, so funny. Since you have three blacks, and only one of them is having this 'plush' issue, it isn't due to the color.

At this point, I'd select kits that are closest to the breed standard, ones that are the proper weight/size for their age, have good sheen to the coat, proper roll-back texture, proper coat length. . .and use them as your new breeding stock, and keep breeding towards the Standard. If the stock that you have is just not genetically capable of being the standard Satins you intended, you may need to pick up a new bloodline of Satins that reflect the traits you are looking for. So sorry that this purchase just didn't live up to its promise, I hope you'll be able to find enough good offspring to breed what you really want.
 

Keag

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judymac-. I do have 3 pedigree Satins & will see what happens with them when bred.

Since this was a brother/sister breeding then those recessives do pop up. I am enjoying the genetics.
 

kusanar314

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It does raise a concern about my black line though, I thought it was free of the harlequin recessive, but apparently not. I'm probably going to have to start a new black line with different genetics.
Could you get a harl buck and test breed him to your does to see which throw the spots and which don't? You would have to cull all kits from those breedings as they would at least be split to harl but that should help weed it out more. If you cull does that throw harl with the harl buck, then breed the daughters from the remaining does back to the harl again to try to make sure you got it all.

when I raised sheep. I had a weird spotted breed called Jacob sheep
I'm hoping to start on Jacobs in a few years. Such cool sheep.
 

judymac

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Could you get a harl buck and test breed him to your does to see which throw the spots and which don't?
I have a number of harlequin bucks that I keep just for the harlequin/tri line, so I could breed them, but black is normal extension that is dominant, so I could still get all normal extension kits, especially in a small litter. But, it might be worth several tries, just to see. The original breeding with the harlequin buck was in hopes of getting red kits. The doe was a fawn with a red sibling, and the buck a rufus (red) chocolate/fawn harlie. Instead, the doe only had two kits, a 'wild gray' chestnut agout doei and the black buck, nothing resembling red, fawn, chocolate or harlie. I did not realize back then that harlequin gene could be a trouble maker in the background, or I wouldn't have kept him. But the black buck was a nice gentle buck, good size, plenty of fiber, and a color I wanted back. I had plenty of chocolate in my herd, but no black (which makes sense since chocolate is the recessive of black.) And that's how I ended up with harlie issues, even though every litter since then has been nothing but black (with the exception of two chocolate self, no harlie markings.) I would never have guessed there was an issue until my friend mentioned the polka-dots. I'm going out there this week to see what the litter turned out to be, to help me decide what to do. (If I'm lucky, her charlie buck that looks white may be the dad, and they're just nicely spotted brokens, but when I described harlequin patterns she kept nodding her head yes. . .)

This has been another great illustration of why you need to keep those pesky genetics that can keep working in the background as a separate line.
 
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