Saturday, June 25, 2005

Genetics of reds, tans, and wideband

When I posted on Claudia's AG_Angoras_Community yahoo group that I am developing Otter (to eventually be Tan) angoras, I got a lot of interest and questions about red, wideband, and otter genetics. Now I am no expert on genetics, but I have bred animals almost all my life, from cavies to horses, and I study a lot, so I *think* I have a pretty good grasp of what these particular genes are about. I'm writing this assuming that the readers have a basic grasp of rabbit color genetics. So here goes:


Reds are essentially Chestnuts or Chocolate Agoutis with the non-extension gene ee and rufous modifiers to intensify the red. The recessive ee removes all or most of the black pigment in the hair shaft. For some reason in Agoutis it does a more complete job than in selfs, demonstrated by the relatively clean color of Reds and Fawns compared to the masks on Torts. Reds with Chocolate, or bb, instead of B_ for Black seem to have the cleanest color. I suspect the reason for this is, being lighter, Chocolate colored smut just blends in better. Reds without the wideband gene will have light colored bellies. The recessive wideband gene ww plus rufous modifiers is what colors in the bellies of Reds and Tans. The wideband gene works by doubling the size of the yellow intermediary band of the hair shaft.

So the ideal genetics of a self red would be AAbbCCDDeeww + rufous. However, some variation will work, so the combination of A_B_C_D_eeww + rufous works also.

Tans and Otters:

The Tan pattern is represented by at. It is recessive to A, or Agouti, but dominant over a, or Self. They come in all 4 self colors, Black, Blue, Chocolate, and Lilac. A rabbit with the Tan pattern looks kinda like a self-colored rabbit that scampered through some paint. It's belly, chest, parts of its legs, triangle, eye circles, nostrils, and pea spots in front of the ears, are light or red colored, depending upon other factors. The other factors are wideband, rufous, and chinchilla. It also will have brindling on its flanks and quarters where the belly color meets the self color.

A Tan rabbit's genetic code is ideally atat??CC??ww + rufous. Since at is recessive to A, a Tan can only have another at or an a in the second position.

What makes a Tan different from an Otter or a Marten?

An Otter does not require the wideband gene. As a result, the tan markings will be smaller, will not go clear down to the skin, and will have a slate undercolor. There will be little if any brindling.

A Marten has at least one chd, or chinchilla, gene ideally paired with another chd or a c. The chin gene removes the yellow from the hair shaft, leaving only black or a silvery color. The wideband gene is not necessary in a Marten, but I feel it does make them more striking, as it increases the size and depth of the silver markings.

Self Reds have been produced from rabbits with the atat genes. Reportedly, they are Tans with the ee gene. An Otter with the ee gene results in what we call a Fox or Tort Marten.

More information on these genes can be found in Rabbit Coat Color Genetics by Glenna M Huffman.

I hope this answers some questions, it took awhile for me to understand it as well as I do, and I still have many questions myself. But if you really want to know more, read Glenna's book. It is well worth the time spent!

And of course, the obligatory pics: :)

Blue Otter

Black Otter

Friday, June 17, 2005

Good news... sort of...

Well, we ruled out coccidiosis as the cause of the 2 babies' deaths. Enteritis is felt to be the cause, but is one of those conclusions that is arrived at by process of elimination, there is no test for it. Meanwhile, the remaining 3 are hale and hearty, and really enjoying the break in the weather that we've been blessed with, as am I. I've been devoting myself to painting and rug-scrubbing before it heats up again! I also have 4 bunns due for shearing.

I've been knitting a baby blanket for my new neice, Victoria, out of the Creamsicle yarn. My brother and his wife adopted her after years of waiting. I don't have enough to make it the size I'd like, so I am considering crocheting a white, pure angora border around it. I'll be sure to post a pic when I'm done!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Lost a couple little ones...

I came home last night and DH said he'd found a dead baby.
This was one of my German/Giant crosses, around 7 weeks old,
and pretty much promised to someone. Well, I went out and
another had died. Diahrrea. DH had put the other in a bag in the
freezer, I got it out and looked, same thing. Well, at least it isn't
VHD! I haven't changed feed, and the bag I'm using now is from
the same lot as last week's bag, and I go through about a bag a week,
so it isn't old or moldy or anything. I've only every lost one other
baby in 3 years like this, it was at 3 weeks and I'm sure it was
entiritis . So I removed all the hay from the cage, no noxious weeds
or anything. No other rabbits were effected, and the other 3 babies
look fine this morning, as does Mom.

The only thing I can think of is the day before when I had changed
their water bottle out I used the half-frozen bottle DH had put in
the cage with them for cooling. This is something I normally do.
Then I put another frozen 2 liter bottle in the cage with them. I'm
wondering if the bottle I used for water had been thawed and re-
frozen. Bacteria could have gotten a foothold that way.

So... I'm not doing that anymore. They'll only get fresh water in
their bottles from now on, and as the ice bottles thaw I am dumping
them out and refilling and re-freezing them.

At least my favorite little buck wasn't one of them. It is amazing how quickly diahrrea kills these little guys. All 5 were lively and hungry that morning when I fed them. DH found the first one around noon. At any rate, nobody will be going anywhere for a few weeks while I make sure everything is under control here and it is nothing contagious.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

More new babies!

Six new babies today! 3 blacks and 3 chocolates!

Inkie's babies

I have been wanting a chocolate and a lilac for some time now. So now I have 3 chocolates, a lilac can't be far behind! The Mom is Inkie, whom I will post a pic of in the near future, the proud Dad is Vinnie, who can be seen here:

Baby update

Brat and her babies have been moved outside to a roomier cage with a bottomless nestbox:

Brat Babies nearly 6 weeks

Meanwhile, Dumpling's 2 babies are out scrambling around and starting to eat solid food:

Dumpling babies nearly 3 weeks

I keep a lot of hay in the cage to make it easy for them to get around. It means I have to clean it more often, but oh well...

Thursday, June 02, 2005


This is a fun game being passed around amongst fiber bloggers. The rules are at the end of this post. Here are my answers to Leslie's questions:

1. Springers are wonderful things. How did you wind up with Banjo and where did he get his name?

My SO, Bob, had a wonderful dog named Harry. Harry was named after the policeman who saved his life. It seems Harry was a young pup found wandering along the Parkway East in Pittsburgh during rush hour. Officer Harry rescued him. Officer Harry was a friend of Bob's family and asked them if they wanted a dog. Bob was looking for a hunting dog, and Harry (whom we think was a cock-a-poo) appeared to have spaniel in his background, so Bob took Harry in. Harry turned out to be the best hunting dog Bob and his friends ever hunted over, and had at least 100 grouse shot over him. He was also Bob's constant companion. By the time I entered Bob's life over 8 years ago, Harry was getting up there in years. I knew his eventual loss would be devastating for Bob, so I looked around and found a litter of Springers available. I asked Bob how he would select a new puppy, and he said he'd select the most aggressive (not mean aggressive, determined aggressive) dog in the litter. My kids and I went out to see the litter, there were 11 pups in the litter! As they literally flowed out of their basket, one came right to me and crawled into my arms. I asked the breeder which was the most aggressive pup in the litter, and she said it was the one I was holding. So he was the one I took home. On the way home, my kids found all his ticklish spots, and we named him Banjo because of the motion his hind leg made when they scratched him.

We brought Banjo home, and Bob was not particularly pleased, as we already had his dog Harry and my dog, Dingo. He finally came over to see Banjo, looked into that funny, wrinkly face and fell in love. Banjo, meanwhile, when sat down in the middle of the floor, looked around, decided he was home, and never looked back. Never whimpered or whined, and immediately made a place for himself in our home and our hearts. He was also the Puppy From Hell, but that's another story. I do have him to thank for making it necessary to buy new furniture!

When Harry's time came one night at the age of nearly 17, I called Bob home from work, and Harry died in his arms. As Bob held Harry and wept, Banjo sat beside him and gently licked his face, as if to say, "It's alright Dad, I'll take care of you now." He did his job - and still does.

2. Why did you choose angoras as a fiber animal to breed, and why did you choose the breed you have?

I live in a small rural town and have essentially a postage stamp for a yard. Sheep or goats were obviously out of the question. We had had a pet mini lop named Georgie that we just loved, and when she passed away at the age of 6, she left a hole in our hearts. So I got a black German Hybrid and we named him George. George was just a big, lovable fluff ball! Then came Angel, another black german hybrid. I wanted easy-care, productive rabbits, and Germans are it. The more I learned, the more involved I wanted to be. I got some Giants so I could show them, and did quite well. Then I let some of the Giants go and got purebred Germans to improve my bloodlines because my Giants matted. I now keep a line of purebred Germans, a Giant/German cross line, and colored German hybrids.

3. Do you live in the area where you were born, and if not, what brought you to the place you live now?

I was born in New Kensington, PA, about an hour away from where I live now. The rest of my family lives down South now, in Virginia, S. Carolina, and Florida. I moved where I am now to be with Bob, and it gave me the excuse I needed to change my career to a computer consultant. Bob and I love PA, we love the hills, the mountains, the valleys, the streams, the fields, the smell of the woods, tilled earth, newly mown hay, and we love to hunt. We love the change in seasons, and we love to ski, although we almost never get to anymore.

4. Are your interests lasting ones or do you enjoy getting involved in new activities, leaving the old ones behind?

I find I usually don't leave an interest behind for too long. I have raised a number of different animals since I was a kid, either animals of my own, or I'd help my friends with theirs. I've had dogs, cats, cavies (guinea pigs), horses, and now rabbits. My desire to learn to hand spin was born in college, when I did work-study down at Fort New Salem at Salem College in WV. I knew it was something I wanted to do someday, and eventually I found the right partner to enable me! I used to knit alot when I was a young mother, then left it behind for awhile when I split with my husband and had to work to support myself. Now that I have my own yarn to knit with, it is even more satifying than it was before! :)

5. What's your favorite activity on a rainy day?

Boy, that's a tough one! Playing with baby bunnies, just sitting and shooting the breeze with Bob, spinning, knitting, reading a good book, and participating in debate forums (one of which I own), not necessarily in that order.

The Rules of The Interview

1. Leave me a comment saying “interview me.”

2. I will respond by asking you five questions here. They will be different questions than the ones above.

3. You will update YOUR blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions

The first 2 people to ask will be interviewed!