Good rabbit beginner color genetic page?

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Keag

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Where can I find a beginner rabbit color genetics page? I am coming from a Poodle color genetics & they are very different. I don't want to bore anyone here with basic, general questions. Instead I will ask about Satin & Rex color genetics. Thank you!
 

judymac

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There are a few terms that vary between breeds (in Angoras, a fawn is the regular shade of 'yellow' ee, and the dilute shade is cream; in other breeds, fawn is the dilute, and orange is the full color variety.) What to call a chinchilla with fawn ee, varies as well, almost none sanction it for showing, but it is called ghost chinchilla, fawn chinchilla, ermine, or frostie/frosty. Agouti with blue is sometimes called opal, agouti with lilac can be lynx, and agouti with chocolate can be cinnamon. Other than those naming quibbles, the genetics between the breeds is pretty much the same. For the Rex, we add the rex recessive, and for satins the sa satin recessive.

The short version of rabbit genetics: there are five main genes to be concerned with in rabbits, conveniently coded A, B, C, D and E.

1. A is for agouti--
this is the wild rabbit color, with multiple colors on one hairshaft, which we call 'rings'. You might see multiple sets of rings when you blow into the coat, but the basic set is an undercolor, the middle yellowish 'fawn' band, the outer band (the main color), and a tip. Agouti rabbits also have special markings, such as a white belly, white rings around the eyes and nose and under the chin, white inside the ears. Agouti is dominant, you only need one agouti allele (a single version of a given gene) to be an agouti. We use capital letters to denote the dominant version, and lower case letter for the recessives. So, if a rabbit gets a dominant agouti gene from one parent, A, the other parent can donate either another dominant version A, or the recessive non-agouti a, and still look the same. We call the rabbit with two alleles that are the same homozygous, homo- means 'the same'. When a bunny gets two different alleles, we call them heterozygous, hetero- means 'different'.

The recessive version aa, is all one color. While the fiber may get paler towards the skin, it is all variations of the same color, with a colored belly, colored ears, no white markings. We call these non-agouti rabbits a self pattern. When you look into a nestbox of newborn bunnies, you might not notice any difference between an agouti, and a solid non-agouti color, except for the white inside the ears on the agoutis. That shows up really quick, before any of the other markings. Both of the kits here look black, but the one on top left has black inside the ears, a self non-agouti black; while the one on the bottom right is an agouti, you can see the white inside the ears.
rabbit self and agouti.JPG
Here's the same two rabbits (with a chocolate agouti in the middle) a few weeks later:
1661284418869.png

No question that the black agouti on the left (called a chestnut agouti), looks different from the self non-agouti black on the right. The self rabbit has a black belly, no white markings. The chestnut agouti has the white around nose and on the belly (can't see the white ringing the eye or in the ears in this photos), as well as the bands of color coming in. The chestnut colored outer band with black tip is now quite visible.​
There is an intermediate version, dominant over non-agouti but recessive to full agouti, called tan, sybolized by a lower case 'a' with a superscript 't' (for tan). Since I don't see a good way to do that here, I'll use a(t). Tan has the agouti markings, but no rings on the hairshaft. However, a bit of color on the tips of the hair may remain, called ticking. True tans also have a reddish modifier called rufus, that fills in the white agouti markings with an orange shade. Usually in most breeds, we have tan variations called otters and martens. Mixed with the full-color 'C' gene, you get otters, where the white markings get a line of tan around the edges, maybe a little tinting of the markings as well. Mixed with the chinchilla gene, that we'll talk about later, you get martens, with all-white markings, no tint.
2. B is for black/brown This is an easy one. All rabbit colors are based on the pigment melanin. It's what shades our skin in the sun with a tan, and gives our hair and skin color. There are two main versions of melanin, eumelanin is the dark version, for browns and blacks. That is the version that the 'B' gene controls. The dominant full eumelanin version is called black, and you only need one copy of to be black, either BB or Bb is black. The recessive less-eumelanin version is called brown, you need two recessive bb copies to be brown. Let's skip over 'C' for the minute, and finish the main color possibilities. . .

3. D is for dense/dilute This gene either crowds the pigment together (dominant 'dense' D, or spaces the pigmented cells out more giving less color, the recessive dilute 'd'. Again, you only need one dominant 'D' to have full dense color, it takes two recessive dilute dd to be a dilute. The dilute of black is called 'blue', a lighter gray color. The dilute of chocolate is called 'lilac', sometimes described as 'pinkish dove gray'. That gives you the four main dark color varieties, black, chocolate, blue and lilac. The non-agouti self colors come in those four varieties, as do agouti and tan patterns.

4. E is for extension, which simply means that the normal color pattern is extended normally to the tip of the hairshaft. There's one more melanin possibility, which is a recessive on this gene, ee, called 'fawn' or 'non-extension'. Sometimes, enzymes will turn off the dark eumelanin, and instead produce a yellow-based color with pheomelanin. That's what gives us our fawn/orange colors, and is the middle band on most agouti patterns. There's another recessive modifier called wide-band (ww) that can take that middle yellow band and extend it clear out to the tips of the fiber, making a golden/orange looking rabbit. It will still have the agouti markings, but not the banding, usually having a plain white undercolor with the orange.

If you combine recessive ee with non-agouti aa, you get a strange combination called 'tortoiseshell'. This self fawn has the yellow/orange body hair, but produces the normal dark color on the face, ears, legs and tail, and shading up a bit onto the body.





 

judymac

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(continued. . .there's a character limit). This is a tortoiseshell, sometimes abbreviated as 'tort', or called Siamese (which is what they were called when I started with bunnies forty years ago.)
angora satin x angora cross siamese tort side 29 dec 21.JPG
There are actually five possibilities on the 'E' locus, and they are incompletely dominant, which means that the recessive allele can still have an effect in the background, changing the proper color a bit, which is why the old-time breeders strived to breed like-to-like, to keep those pesky recessives at bay. Starting from the most dominant and working down:
  1. Dominant Black, E with a superscript capital 'D', I'll use E(D). This is rare in most breeds, but it trumps all the agouti gene patterns and makes the rabbit look like a solid self color.
  2. Steel is dominant over normal color, and only presents itself when in the company of the dominant agouti A gene. It is coded E with a capital 'S' superscript, I'll use E(S) here. It pushes the rings right up the hairshaft, only leaving a tip of the middle fawn band visible. You don't see any agouti markings, only the gold-tipping, which is why this pattern is called gold-tipped steel. When combined with chinchilla (an option on the C gene we'll cover next), you get silver tipping instead.
  3. Normal Extension just means the rabbit is going to have the normal agouti pattern extended down the hairshaft in the normal pattern. It is coded plain old E, this is the normal wild-rabbit color gene.
  4. Harlequin/Japanese Brindle is a crazy allele, coded e with a small 'j' superscript, I'll use e(j). It takes the multiple colors on the agouti hairshaft, and instead sprinkles them on separate hairs through the coat. When just plain mixed, the pattern is called 'brindle'. When the hairs form patches of color, we call it 'harlequin'. A true harlequin pattern as defined by ARBA (the American Rabbit Breeders Association, which makes all the registration and show rules for all accepted breeds of rabbits) is extremely difficult to achieve. It is a court jester pattern with each ear a different color, then the alternate color on the face, alternating again for the chest and then for the legs, with stripes of colors going down the sides, sometimes changing color right down the middle of the back. This pattern is not acceptable for show in any breed other than the Harlequin breed, although lops and one other breed can show them in broken (spotted) form, called tricolors or tri for short. This one can cause havoc as a recessive, making normal E agoutis that look like steels, or steels that only have the ticking in patches. . .
  5. Non-extension ee, the 'fawn' gene that we've already discussed.
5. Which brings us back to C which is for color. Again, we have five options here, in descending order of dominance:
  1. Full-color dominant C is the wild allele. It simply means that the pigment is produced exactly as the other genes are programmed to do.
  2. Chinchilla is next up (actually next down), coded c with a superscript little 'chd' for chinchilla dark. I'll use c(chd). This allele removes the pheomelanin fawn/orange band, leaving only pearly white behind. When you combine chinchilla with fawn, the chinchilla allele removes the yellow, so everywhere you would normally have yellow, will now be pearly white. So, a fawn agouti with fawn/fawn/white banding now becomes white/white/white, with only a touch of eumelanin color on the face or ears (sometimes not even that). They'll look like albino whites or pointed whites, depending on how much 'smut' ends up on the face/ears, but you can tell them by their dark steel eyes, instead of red/pink. Chinchilla + harlequin = magpie, a harlequin pattern with white where the fawn would be. Chinchilla + tan = marten, with white agouti markings instead of tan. Chinchilla + tortoiseshell = pearl, with pearly white where the fawn would be on the body.
  3. Sable is the next one down, called 'chinchilla light' and coded the same as chinchilla except for the 'l' for light replacing the 'd' for dark, c(chl). This one not only removes the pheomelanin yellow/orange, but also some of the eumelanin dark. Black becomes sepia shaded. Having two sable alleles makes a 'seal'--a darker version that can look like the normal full-color version, except for the sepia tint. Regular sable, with one c(chl) combined with a more-recessive pointed white or albino allele, becomes a shaded gene, the darker shade over the back fading lighter towards the belly. When combined with tortoiseshell, you get sable pearls, similar to the chinchilla pearls, but with the sepia tint as well as the shading.
  4. Himalayan/pointed white is next to the most recessive, a temperature sensitive allele only allowing color on the cooler extremities: nose, ears, feet and tail. Otherwise, they are albino stark white, with red/pink eyes. Coded c(h) for Himalayan.
  5. Albino red (or ruby)-eyed white (REW) is the most recessive of all, yet has the greatest effect, because this recessive trumps all the other genes, every one. No matter what the other genetics are, a rabbit with recessive cc will not have any color produced anywhere. Some have described this as a colored rabbit wearing a white sheet. Genetically, this rabbit could be a chocolate agouti, a blue gold-tipped steel or a sable pearl. You'd never know, because all pigment was shut off by cc, and the color can't be seen. Breeding to a REW can be a real surprise, as you'll have no idea what color is under the sheet, unless you have a pedigree to give you clues.
Okay, that's it for the main five. On top of that, you have the dominant 'broken' gene, which breaks up the color with white, En for the English spot breed that sports these spots. If a rabbit has this gene, it will be broken, and show some little bit of white spotting somewhere, even if it's just on the nose and toes. No matter how many generations of brokens are in your rabbit's pedigree, if it does not display the white spotting, it isn't a broken, and it cannot carry broken, because it takes a double recessive en en to NOT be spotted. (Just as an aside, a double broken EnEn is called a 'Charlie', and can be very susceptible to a genetic fault called megacolon that can cut the bunny's life short.

The Dutch spotting gene is different, it's a recessive du (for Dutch), and causes a white collar, white striping on the face and white feet. Du du is the usual Dutch pattern, du du is a lethal combination, causing non-viable kits with genetic defects called 'peanuts'.

Another pattern that looks Dutch is caused by the Vienna blue-eyed white gene, v for Vienna. A normal rabbit is VV, (that's double V'', not a big double-U). An albino with blue eyes instead of pink/red is recessive vv. So far, so good. The major headache is what happens when you cross the two, and get Vv. These pesky critters can be so cute, with little Dutch marked spots on the face and feet, sometimes extremely marked with white bands on the shoulders and even white ears (WE). They're marketed as cute, and they are. But getting this mixed up into your regular breeding program can be a nightmare, with perfectly fabulous pedigreed rabbits showing up with stray white marks, white hairs, and white toenails, making them unshowable and unregisterable. It can persist for generations, hiding in the background. Those rabbits that carry the Vienna recessive but don't show it are called VC, Vienna Carriers. Those that show the Dutch marking, be it just a small spot of white or a full-blown Dutch pattern, are called VM, Vienna Marked.

As to websites for more info, try Holland Lop Colors The colors are on Holland Lops, but it's a great resource. Rabbit Genetics is another great choice. I've spent the last two years working on a resource of my own, I finally finished all the illustrations/photos and am working on the index/glossary now. It's taken two years, and covers almost three hundred pages of photos of all these genes. Such a fascinating subject, and yet the more you learn, the more you know how little you know. Even the 'expert' scientists haven't a clue about how some of this works. . .but its so fun to explore and see what possibilities are out there.
 

Keag

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judymac- thank you for you explanation. A bit different than Poodle color genetics. Due to your explanation I believe I partially have the buck & doe figured out.
I have a Black Doe, a Black or "Steele" Buck- he was Black for a couple of months & then white hairs appeared on his body scattered. The 3 kits are Chocolate Otter, & 2 Blues with 1 slightly darker. So both parents would be Bbdd & I do not know what genes causes the Otter..
 

judymac

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Look at the white hairs. Are they white to the root, or is it a white tip? Steel is a white tip on an otherwise dark hairshaft. If they are white to the root, then we are not talking steel at all, but either stray white hairs (SWH for short, the genetic cause is not fully known) or the silvering gene, like in Silver Fox rabbits, which is also not completely understood. Many sources say that silver is recessive, and you need si si to be silver, but experienced breeders working with silvered breeds often have Si si first generation crosses that silver up. There's also a lot of unknown modifiers that control the amount of silvering.

Correct steel is E(S) E, but E(S)e(j) or E(S)e may show some ticking. Steel requires dominant agouti to properly express itself throughout the body. It only takes one dominant agouti allele to show as agouti, so a good steel could be AA B- C- Dd E(S) E, Aa(t) B- C- Dd E(S) E or Aa B- C- Dd E(S) E. Steel without agouti can just look like a self color, and not look steel, steel with tan can look mostly not steel but have ticking in the agouti pattern areas. Where is your buck's ticking located?

If the doe is a self non-agouti (as opposed to a double steel E(S) E(S), called a supersteel that can also look like a self even though it is an agouti), then she could be aa B- C- Dd E-. That would explain the otter, as she can only pass along the recessive a non-agouti, but the steel could be Aa(t) and still show steel. That means there's a 50/50 chance their offspring would be Aa agouti, or a(t) a otter. However, this leaves a conundrum for your two blues, which would be aa, which would mean the steel was Aa, not agouti carrying tan for the otter.

How old are the kits? Blue agouti kits look blue at birth, it takes a week or two for the agouti ticking to appear. Can you attach photos of the parents and the kits?

There's a great page at A/E Gene Combinations that shows the interaction between the agouti 'A' gene and the extension/fawn/steel 'E' gene.
 

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I tend to use the chart to help wrap my head around it. Not all are applicable to every breed but works as a great baseline.
 

Keag

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Look at the white hairs. Are they white to the root, or is it a white tip? Steel is a white tip on an otherwise dark hairshaft. If they are white to the root, then we are not talking steel at all, but either stray white hairs (SWH for short, the genetic cause is not fully known) or the silvering gene, like in Silver Fox rabbits, which is also not completely understood. Many sources say that silver is recessive, and you need si si to be silver, but experienced breeders working with silvered breeds often have Si si first generation crosses that silver up. There's also a lot of unknown modifiers that control the amount of silvering.

Correct steel is E(S) E, but E(S)e(j) or E(S)e may show some ticking. Steel requires dominant agouti to properly express itself throughout the body. It only takes one dominant agouti allele to show as agouti, so a good steel could be AA B- C- Dd E(S) E, Aa(t) B- C- Dd E(S) E or Aa B- C- Dd E(S) E. Steel without agouti can just look like a self color, and not look steel, steel with tan can look mostly not steel but have ticking in the agouti pattern areas. Where is your buck's ticking located?

If the doe is a self non-agouti (as opposed to a double steel E(S) E(S), called a supersteel that can also look like a self even though it is an agouti), then she could be aa B- C- Dd E-. That would explain the otter, as she can only pass along the recessive a non-agouti, but the steel could be Aa(t) and still show steel. That means there's a 50/50 chance their offspring would be Aa agouti, or a(t) a otter. However, this leaves a conundrum for your two blues, which would be aa, which would mean the steel was Aa, not agouti carrying tan for the otter.

How old are the kits? Blue agouti kits look blue at birth, it takes a week or two for the agouti ticking to appear. Can you attach photos of the parents and the kits?

There's a great page at A/E Gene Combinations that shows the interaction between the agouti 'A' gene and the extension/fawn/steel 'E' gene.
Thank you, the kits are 9 days old. I will have to check the Sire to see if the white scattered hairs are all the way through white or just tipped. I will take pictures of kits , Sire & Dam tomorrow. I have a video of the kits at day 7. They look like a solid Blue with no markings. It is hard to tell the 2 apart but 1 is slightly darker than the other. I looked up a great video that stated everything you said but with Photos & little knacks to tell colors apart. It was a Holland Lop Breeder & the photos really help a great deal. Thank you for the explanation of "Steel" since it is not really covered or photos to compare.
 

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judymac-. I took pictures & looked down the shaft as you suggested. White is definitely down the whole shaft. Doe is getting a few white hairs as well but not nearly as many. I suspected Silver Fox when I saw the white hairs scattering about but really know nothing about them. Can Silver Fox bred with a Satin get a Solid Chocolate? Just wondering since the 3 I bought (not from breeder) was told all were Siblings, Standard Satin & all female. Ended up with 2 bucks, 1 doe. Not the hair of a Satin (I bought 3 pedigreed). The Buck & Doe would be Siblings & therefore could pass on recessives to the offspring. Kits are 10 days old.
In order should be 3 siblings, Doe, light grey-silver lining in ears & small white spot behind ears but no other "spotting", comparing both Silvers, darker Silver- also looks to have a tiny white spot behind ears & nowhere else & solid silver ear lining, Buck.
 

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Keag

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Somehow my first set of pictures & 2nd set overlapped. So it would be Doe, Trio, Darker Silver, Otter pattern & then what I stated above- Trio, Doe, light Silver, comparing Silvers, Darker Silver, Buck.
 

judymac

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Great. Okay, so we've eliminated steel. It looks like real silvering, and doesn't seem to have that Satin sheen. I have Satin Angoras, and that amazing sheen is recessive, sa. You need two copies of it for the sheen to show up, sa sa. Silver Fox colors are non-agouti self based, aa. My husband used to raise them, nice solid bunnies. They usually come in black, and sometimes its dilute form, blue; but chocolates exist as well, but are not showable. The Silver Fox hair is unique, in that it should stand up; unlike the Satin coat which lies smooth with a special translucent sheen. So yes, a chocolate cross between Satin and Silver Fox is quite likely. It could have no silvering, a little silvering here and there, or quite a bit, depending on other modifiers and Lady Luck.

If you want to breed back to true Satin genetics, they should have Sa sa genetics as half-breds. This means that when you cross two Sa sa parents, the odds of the offspring being satin coated are:
(this is called a Punnett square, where you calculate the odds of a given match, one parent's gene alleles across the top, the other one down the left side. Where the columns and rows cross (it's usually written out in squares), you put down the two alleles combined, one from the vertical column and the other from the horizontal row.

Sa sa x Sa sa = Sa sa
Sa Sa Sa--non satin Sa sa--satin recessive carrier
sa Sa sa--satin carrier sa sa--satin-coated


So, you have a 50/50 chance of getting satin carriers, a 25% chance of totally non-satin, and a 25% chance of satin-coated kits, or 1 out of 4, although Lady Luck can vastly change the actual percentage in any given litter.

When you look at the kits, do you see how the white ears are obvious on the agouti-patterned kit? That would be the one with the white belly. At this age, it's hard to tell whether it will be an otter or a chocolate agouti. Within the next week or two, the hair should be grown out sufficiently to see if it is going to have agouti rings or not. The otter will not have rings, but may have some tipping. The agouti will develop a chocolate tip, a chestnut shade, fawn middle band, and then a dove gray base.
angora color chestnut and chocolate agouti and black lined up 3 jul 21.JPG
In this photo, the kits on the outside were both born black. The one on the right is a non-agouti self black. The one on the left is a black agouti, called chestnut agouti. You can see the chestnut color coming in. The one in the middle was born chocolate, but you can see the white inside the ears; it's a chocolate agouti, and the chestnut bands are emerging, changing the color.

What confuses me are the two 'blue' kits. They really don't quite look blue to me. It may be the lighting, or the computer monitor's interpretation of the color, but the ears and legs look shaded to me. Do the kits have satin sheen? I know it can really change how the coat looks in the camera lens.

1661495449367.png
These are Satin Angora kits at three days. See how the sheen fools the camera into thinking there are different colors involved on one kit? It's just a reflection caused by the translucent hair shaft.
But your kits seem to have a chocolate tint to them in places, like they're lilacs, but the shading seems out of place, unless they're going to be sable-based colors. It will be interesting to see how they develop.
 

judymac

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Sorry, I laid out the Punnett square columns carefully when drafting my post, but it smashed everything together once posted, so the proper columns are gone. Sorry 'bout that. The two columns for one parent are the red Sa and sa. The two rows for the other parent start with the blue Sa and sa. The blue and red combinations were supposed to be where the rows and columns met, but now they're just all mushed together. The odds stay the same even if the square is squished, though.
 
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Those "blues," especially the lighter one, look like sables. We played around with making sable satins for a while (a full-extension version of the accepted siamese satin variety), using a mutt doe to introduce the color into our black line, so we got both satinized and standard-coated sables. The sables start out looking like faded blues, go through a stunning "frosty" phase of blue with pale "tipping" (which is made even more intense when they have satin sheen), then slowly morph into a frosty chocolatey brown and eventually arrive at the shaded sable brown.
Your doe and especially your buck look like sables to me as well...rich brown with darker shaded head/ears (I can't see feet or tail in the photos but I'd guess they match the head and ears). I've found that there is a tremendous range of brown/chocolate coloring in sables, and they seem to darken as they age. They can also molt in the most fantastic patterns (see last pics)!
There is nothing to say that you couldn't have the silvering gene thrown into the sable package, but I've had "excessive scattered white hairs" show up in Satins where I'm 99.9% sure there is no heritage of silver (I'm never willing to say *anything* in genetics is 100%, haha!).

cal-and-sable-kits-jpg.31119

Newborn sable kit on bottom, cal on top

sable 5 days.jpg
Sable kit at 5 days (this one looks shiny because of "frosting" but is not actually satinized)


sables 2 wks.jpg
Sables at 2 weeks, still "frosted" but now chocolatey instead of bluish, and shading is showing on ears, nose, feet and tail

Sable 3.5 weeks.jpg
Sable at 3.5 weeks


Dusty.JPG
4-month-old Sable (satin carrier, not satinized) - note the scattered white hairs on saddle

Dusty in molt b.jpg Dusty in molt.jpg
Adult sable in crazy molt
 

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Keag

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Very interesting! I will post updates as they mature. The kits do not look like they have the Satin sheen. That is what I noticed in the parents when I got them home at about 8 weeks, & their tiny size I pretty much knew they were a mix. After watching Hook's Holland's on You Tube I knew to look in the ears for Agouti "white" as well as around the nose. The ears on the "Silver" have Silver hairs on the inside not white so not Agouti. Since the parents are young I am sure their coats will change with age.

I noticed in my Does ears the fringe on the inside has light brown hair with black hairs. Almost a faint pattern. I do not know if that is relevant?

Can we trace back some of the parents genes by using the Chocolate Otter?

Attached are a few more photos- light Silver Belly, darker Silver, Buck, Doe

Camera is from phone & though in daylight photos taken under a canopy so not direct sunlight. No filters.
 

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judymac

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Agouti markings can be tinted somewhat, so that's still not a deal breaker for the otter vs. agouti. Were the parents housed in an area with sun? Black bleaches to odd brown shades in the sun. Molting rabbits end up with odd color splotching as well. If neither of these things are in effect, there really is some odd mottling to the doe. Almost a red scattered through the black, like I get in harlequinized agouti patterns.
1661516384422.png
This is not a silver or steel, this is what happens when you have a harlequin e(j) recessive hiding behind a normal E. This should be a wild gray chestnut agouti, but the harlequin gene just can't resist meddling in the background, resulting in a kit that looks like a mishmash of color patterns. A sibling looked like this with faint eye rings and the white ears, although when fully furred out, even those were colored in by the e(j). The sibling ended up with some light mottling as well.
1661517236296.png

If you didn't know this rabbit harbored a harlequin recessive, you'd never know what pattern this really was. That's the fascinating thing about genetics. When they teach you the ABC's, they never mention the fact that hidden recessives can radically change color patterns, or sometimes just sneakily make little tweaks. It's why a lot of the old-time breeders were fanatical about breeding like-to-like, to avoid those recessive issues in their herd.
 

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Now, I am totally confused. Again Poodle dog genetics are very different where Black is Dominant to ALL colors. I am used to Poodle color genetics & Rabbits are very different. In Rabbits that is not the case. From what I just read on another page the "Otter, a(t)" gene is more dominant than the "self-aa" gene. So, how can my 2 "self" looking rabbits create an Otter? 1 parent would have to be Otter & I just don't see it at all? The Chocolate Otter Kit is very obvious in the above pictures.
 

judymac

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Sorry, I apologize, I didn't mean to be confusing. My point is simply that even though the ABCs of rabbit genetics are fairly straightforward, and usually work just as given in the various genetics resources, there are other mitigating effects that can make the phenotype (what the rabbit looks like on the outside), not really be a good clue to the genotype (what the actual genes are in the inside).

Your littler is a good example. You're right, no matter whether the agouti marked kit turns out to be A agouti, or a(t) tan, both are dominant over self, and that shouldn't happen. Two true selfs cannot make either tan or agouti. Which tells us that your two 'black' rabbits are not self non-agouti black. The question is, what are they?

There are a variety of situations where a self-looking rabbit may not be a true aa B-C-D-E- self black. Let's look at a few other combinations that look self black:
  • Chinchilla needs agouti to express, so aa B- c(chd)- D- E- looks self black.
  • Double sable, aa B- c(chl) c(chl) D- E-, called 'seal', almost looks self-black, with a tinge of faded sepia, the British Rabbit Society calls it 'dusty black'. I've read that if you turn the rabbit over and look underneath the toes, the seals will have sepia, while the true blacks will be gray there.
  • The rare Dominant Black agouti looks self black, even though it is actually an agouti, A- B- C- D- E(D)-. Complete Rabbit Colour Genetics Guide mentions this gene is rare, mostly found in Havanas and English Spots. Some researchers have suggested that some of the black sections in harlequin e(j) might be dominant black E(D).
  • Non-agouti steel looks self-black, as it also needs agouti to express. aa B- C- D- E(S)-
  • Supersteel double steel can still look self black, even though it is agouti, A- B- C- D- E(S) E(S)
  • The harlequin allele e(j) as a recessive can mess up the normal gene expression. That was the example of the harlequinized chestnut agouti photos I posted. The agouti markings are gone and the belly is dark, with some odd mottling and ticking.
So, there are times when what looks like a self just isn't, and you have run into this situation. As the kits mature, and their adult coats grow in, you should have some more clues as to what colors the kits are, which should give you some more clues into the parents' backgrounds. You may also be dealing with multiple genes that counteract each other, or have similar actions (like silvering vs steel vs stray white hairs).

Your litter and parents are a fascinating conundrum, it will be interesting to see how this little adventure finally concludes. It may take several litters before the real genetics in the background get more fully expressed, as Lady Luck always has her hand in each litter. Keep us posted as the kits grow, and the adults molt out their old coats and grow in a fresh one.
 

judymac

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I've been going through those last photos again, and I just don't think the parents are black. Black often ends up with shades of gray when they molt, but your rabbits seem to have sepia highlights all through the coat. Which usually indicates the sable gene, chinchilla light c(chl). Alaska Satin had the same idea about the silvery kits.
Those "blues," especially the lighter one, look like sables.
While sables with a single c(chl) allele can look shaded, those with double c(chl) c(chl) are called seals, and end up looking like regular full-color rabbits, except for that odd sepia tint. The British Rabbit Council calls the seal Siamese Sable Dark, and describes it as 'dusty black', Rabbit Colour List - The British Rabbit Council There's a seal rex photo at 19 Rex Rabbit Colors & Patterns (With Pictures) | Pet Keen

I tried looking up photos of seal agouti rabbits, but didn't have much luck there. And have no idea what happens when supersteel meets seal, since double steel makes an agouti look plain self black, sometimes with a bit of ticking. Same with what happens when harlequin e(j) works in the background of any of these colors, giving a harlequinized color. What if you had dominant E(D) black combined with sable seal c(chl) c(chl)? I have no idea. Green Barn Farm has a wonderful color matrix at Coat Color Photo Matrix Look down the center 'seal' column, and see how many color possibilities could occur with seal, and yet how few photos there are of those combinations.
 

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I just examined the Doe quickly & here are the quick notes. I will take pictures later today when I take pictures of kits. Doe has a greyish belly definitely not a Black belly like the Buck. She also has light brown/tan markings on her ears, especially the edges. Now I doubt she is a self Black.
 

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Judymac-. Thank you with the Green Barn Farm link. I am on the page of Phenotypes of the A-/E- gene combination. Reading 2 of those descriptions the E(s)E & the E(s)e now makes sense to me & possibly part of the Does genetic makeup. I need to check eyes & bottom of feet for coloration for Seal.
 
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I've been going through those last photos again, and I just don't think the parents are black. Black often ends up with shades of gray when they molt, but your rabbits seem to have sepia highlights all through the coat. Which usually indicates the sable gene, chinchilla light c(chl). Alaska Satin had the same idea about the silvery kits.

While sables with a single c(chl) allele can look shaded, those with double c(chl) c(chl) are called seals, and end up looking like regular full-color rabbits, except for that odd sepia tint. The British Rabbit Council calls the seal Siamese Sable Dark, and describes it as 'dusty black', Rabbit Colour List - The British Rabbit Council There's a seal rex photo at 19 Rex Rabbit Colors & Patterns (With Pictures) | Pet Keen

I tried looking up photos of seal agouti rabbits, but didn't have much luck there. And have no idea what happens when supersteel meets seal, since double steel makes an agouti look plain self black, sometimes with a bit of ticking. Same with what happens when harlequin e(j) works in the background of any of these colors, giving a harlequinized color. What if you had dominant E(D) black combined with sable seal c(chl) c(chl)? I have no idea. Green Barn Farm has a wonderful color matrix at Coat Color Photo Matrix Look down the center 'seal' column, and see how many color possibilities could occur with seal, and yet how few photos there are of those combinations.
Yes, I didn't mention it in the earlier post but those parents look like either very dark sables or seals to me. But seal is still a self color, which doesn't work for making an otter kit. So like you, thoughts about supersteel were crossing my mind. That would account for all the "stray white hairs," aka ticking, as well. If you had supersteel plus sable, it seems like the sable gene would affect the black pigment of the supersteel like it does black pigment in other varieties, making it sepia. (But I don't know for sure... I have pointedly *not* messed around with steel in my own rabbits since it can be such a nightmare... that sneaky sable gene is bad enough, haha.)
So maybe <Aat Bb cchlcchl D_ EsEs> for one parent? It doesn't seem like they could not both be supersteel, or the babies would all be, too.
 
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