This section contains some basic information about the genetics of colors and types of rats that we breed here at Phoenix Gate. Standards are used to achieve goals with regard to color, pattern, body type, etc. While creating sweet healthy long-lived companions is our main goal, we also are working to improve size and type in our rats. Bringing all this together is the challenge in breeding. All of the possible types and standards are not included here. This is what color varieties we are currently working on. We hope that this guide will help also with those potential adopters who are looking for a particular type of rat and for those new to the rat world to have a basic understanding of what these colors look like. However, for a more complete look and understanding, it is important to check out your club's standards. Each club with have its own particular standard and not all varieties are recognized in all clubs. We will be looking at the RSA's standards for descriptions.
RSA Standard: "To be a rich, golden fawn evenly ticked with silver guard hairs. Undercolor to be pale blue/gray carried down to the skin. Belly fur to be silver. Top color to be even and carried well down the sides with a clear differentiation between belly and top color. Any tendency to sootiness or grayness of the top color to be penalized. Eyes: Dark ruby."
Genetics: Fawn is created by adding red eye dilute to agouti ~ A- rr
Other Names: Fawn is also called Topaz (UK)
Notes: Fawn is a well known and established color though it often goes by a different name. Fawn's can have a wide range of eye shades from bright red to a very dark, almost black ruby. The intensity of the orange pigment in the coat can also range from a light golden to a deep dark orange depending on the amount of modifiers and dilutes in the rat's genes. The r allele dilutes eyes to ruby, lightens black/brown and slightly affects red.
At the Rattery: We are currently working towards a new line of fawns. We also have fawns in our hairless line.
RSA Standard: "Color: Golden chestnut brown with dark gray to black base fur and black guard hair. The line between the top color and belly color is to be sharp, devoid of irregularities and brindling. Foot color to match the top and belly color a silver gray. Eye Color: Black."
Genetics: Agouti is a simple dominate ~ A-
Other Names: Can be referred to as the Wildtype
Notes: Agouti is the original coloration of the ancestor wild rats. The red pigment in the hair can range from a lighter grayish red to a deep rich red brown. This is affected by the diet and if any modifiers or dilutes are in the rat's genes. Agoutis have a band of yellow near the top of each hair that gives the hair a striped appearance or the ticked appearance. Agouti is the "default" color.
At the Rattery: We currently have agouti as part of our hairless line
RSA Standard: Color: An attractive blend of mid-blue ticking over a medium fawn ground. Undercolor to be blue down to the skin. Belly color silver. Feet dove gray. Ears and tail to be covered with blue hairs. Fault: Brown tinge. Eye Color: Black."
Genetics: Blue Agouti is created by adding American blue dilute to agouti ~ A- gg
Other Names: Blue Agouti is also known as Opal (UK)
Notes: The homozygous blue dilutes the black band in to blue and there is little or no effect on the yellow band. Blue agouti is a very pretty and popular color.
At the Rattery: We have blue agouti in our hairless line.
Non-Agouti (Non-Ticked) Based Colors
RSA Standard: "Color: To be a deep solid black, devoid of browning or rusting. Base fur is to be black to the skin, foot and belly color to match the top. Faults: patchiness or rusting. Eye Color: Black."
Genetics: Black is a simple recessive ~ aa
Other Names: No other names
Notes: Black is one of the first mutations in the species. Black is created when a rat has two doses of the a alele which completely eliminates the ticking in the coat to a solid black color. The degree of pigment (and thus darkness) is affected in a large part to any number of carried dilutions and/or modifiers the rat may have. Black is the default color when agouti is not present.
At the Rattery: We currently have black as part of our all of our lines but we see actual black rats the most in our hairless line and our new RED line.
RSA Standard: "Color: A warm tan. Eye Color: Dark Ruby."
Genetics: Beige is created by adding red eye dilute to black ~ aa rr
Other Names: Beige is also called Buff (UK)
Notes: Just like Fawn, Beige is a well known and established color. Beige's also can have a wide range of eye shades from bright red to a very dark, almost black ruby. The intensity of the orange pigment in the coat can also range from a pale beige to a darker tan depending on the amount of modifiers and dilutes in the rat's genes. Some Beiges tend towards a bluish or pinkish subtle undertone.
At the Rattery: We most often see beige in our Hairless line but we will be working towards a solid Beige line with the option for Fawns.
RSA Standard: "Color: To be between a deep steel blue and a pale blue. Lighter shades have a pale silver base fur and underbelly. Darker shades to have a belly color matching the top, color may be lighter at the skin. Foot color to match the top. Faults: patchiness or rusting. Eye Color: Darker shades: Black / Lighter shades: Dark Ruby or Black."
Genetics: American blue is created by adding American blue dilute to black ~ aa gg
Other Names: Also known as simply Blue or Slate blue.
Notes: Same gene for blue is called d in the UK and Australia. Blue is perhaps one of the most popular and beautiful colors. Unfortunately, many of the blues today have a fair share of rusting or too much white undercoat/too pale. The presence of modifiers and other carried dilutes lighten the otherwise deep slate blue color. The G locus dilutes black to a blue-gray.
At the Rattery: We use American blue in our Russian blue lines to create Russian silvers. However, we rarely have just blue babies in our litters.
RSA Standard:"Color: Similar to Russian Blue in cats. A deep medium gray-blue with a metallic sheen. Faint light speckling or a subtle ticked effect (heathering) and/or darker guard hairs throughout, are usual for this variety and are not a fault. Color to be even, belly color to match top. Undercolor dark blue down to the skin. Faults: Brownish coloration or color too light. Eye Color: Black."
Genetics:Russian blue is created by adding Russian blue dilute to black ~ aa dd
Other Names: Also known as simply Blue or Slate blue.
Notes: Same gene for Russian blue is called rd in the UK. Russian blue is very similar to the Russian blue found in cats, hence its name. The Russian blue locus acts in a special way upon the pigments in the hair. It causes pigment to be placed together in large clumps inside the hair shaft instead of being distributed a normal, even manner. Despite there actually being more pigment in the hair, the color is lightened. Pigment gathers at the base of the hair while the tip tends to be lighter creating a ticked/silvered effect.
At the Rattery: We currently have a Russian blue line that is one of our main lines.
RSA provisional: "Color: To be a pale blue-gray. Faint light speckling or a subtle ticked effect (heathering) is usual for this variety and is not a fault. Color to be level throughout. Belly color to match top. Undercolor to be as pale as possible. Brown, yellow or pinky tinges to be faulted. Eye Color: Black."
Genetics:Russian silver is created by combing Russian blue and American blue dilute to black ~ aa gg dd
Other Names: Also known as double blue, Standardized in AFRMA as Silver blue
Notes: Russian silver is a color that looks very similar to blue but it still retains the pigment clumping affect of the Russian blue locus.
At the Rattery: We currently have a Russian blue line that also has Russian silver.
RSA Standard:"Color: To be a deep, rich chocolate, as even as possible, devoid of any dinginess. Foot color to match top. Fault: patchiness. Eye Color: Black."
Genetics: Created by adding brown dilute to black ~ aa bb
Other Names: Beige is also called Buff (UK)
Notes: Chocolate is perhaps one of the oldest recognized mutations in rats but it is perhaps the least popular in the past few decades. A good sample Chocolate rat is very stunning. However, chocolate gets a bad look from the common mistake of naming a poor black as chocolate. Chocolate is affected (lightened) by the presence of carried dilutes and modifiers, particularly the red eye dilute gene.
At the Rattery: We have a solid line of Chocolates that come from a combination of UK and US lines.
NFRS Standard:"A pinky dove gray throughout, from tips of fur to skin, bluish tinge a fault. Foot and belly color to match top. Ears and tail to be covered with gray hairs. Eyes very dark ruby or black."
Genetics: Created by adding brown and blue dilute to black ~ aa bb gg
Other Names: Classic lilac is also called Lilac (UK)
Notes: Lilac is a very pretty, almost pinkish platinum color. It is not a real well known or understood color but we are hoping to start developing it here. It lacks the common faults that are seen with the blues.
At the Rattery: We have classic lilac in our Chocolate line.
RSA Standard:"Color: To be palest silver to cream undercolor. Each hair to be delicately tipped with gray evenly over the whole animal. Belly fur to be creamy silver. Foot color to match top. Eye Color: Black."
Genetics: Created by adding on dose of pearl to a mink ~ aa Pepe mm
Other Names: No other names
Notes: Pearl is considered a homozygous lethal because a homozygous pearl, PePe is lethal in-utero. Babies that are PePe will simply not become fully developed or born and will be reabsorbed during pregnancy. This causes for much smaller litters in which here is a chance for PePe matching. The pearl coloring will only show on a mink rat. However, a rat that is Pepe is pearl whether it shows or not. Pearl can be added to either American mink or Mink. However, the mink based pearls tend to almost have "points" where as the American based pearls do not.
At the Rattery: We will be incorporating our pearls into our new beige/fawn line while still maintaining the pearl coloring occasionally.
RSA Standard: provisional "To be an even, rich medium brown, devoid of dinginess, silvering, or patches with darker points on the feet, tail, nose, and ears of the same color. There is to be a strong contrast between the points and body color. Eyes: black. Disqualification: white markings, no points."
For Sable Burmese: provisional "To be a warm, dark brown with subtle darker points on the feet, tail, nose, and ears. Devoid of dinginess, silvering or patches. Contrast between points and body color not to be overstated. Any suggestion of black in the points to be penalized. Eyes: black. Disqualification: white markings, no points."
Genetics: Dominate. Needs c-locus to show ~
Sable with points = a/a ch/ch Bu/Bu or ch/c Bu/Bu
Sable with no points = a/a c/c Bu/Bu
Burmese with points = a/a ch/ch Bu/bu or ch/c Bu/bu
Burmese with no points = a/a c/c Bu/bu
Wheaten sable with points = A/- ch/ch Bu/Bu or ch/c Bu/Bu
Wheaten sable with no points = A/- c/c Bu/Bu
Wheaten Burmese with points = A/- ch/ch Bu/bu or ch/c Bu/bu
Wheaten Burmese with no points = A/- c/c Bu/bu
Notes: Originated in the UK and imported to the US in Nov 2004.
At the Rattery: We will start breeding Burmese in 2007.
ARFMA Standard: Body color to be medium beige gradually and evenly shaded over saddle and hindquarters towards the belly, being darkest at base of tail. Tail color to extend down the length of the tail. Belly to be light beige. Points to be rich dark sepia and to shade evenly into the body color. Eyes red or light ruby. Seal Point Siamese to be shown only in AOCP class.
For RUSSIAN BLUE POINT SIAMESE - Body color to be ivory with a deep gray cast (the darker the better) gradually and evenly shaded over the saddle and hindquarters towards the belly, being darkest at the base of the tail. The points (nose, ears, feet, tail, and tail-root) to be a dark gray-blue. They should not have a definite or distinct line of demarcation but rather a toning or merging with the remainder of the coat. There should be no white hairs, blotches, streaks, or mealiness of the color. Eyes red or ruby. Russian Blue Point Siamese to be shown only in AOCP class. [Standardized November 1, 2003]