Saturday, February 28, 2009

Angora genetics -- Agouti colours

This is a continuation of the Joybilee Farm description of Angora rabbit genetics and colours.

The fawn rabbit is an agouti rabbit. Its fiber changes colour along the hair shaft. Its face, ears, and back are coloured and the stomach is light cream.

Agouti is the dominant gene. This means if a rabbit has the agouti gene it will be evident in its coat colouring. Self rabbits do not carry the agouti gene. Ruby Eyed White rabbits may carry the agouti gene but the albino gene masks it.
If you breed an agouti rabbit with a self rabbit the litter will have agouti babies in it.

The two rabbit colours and their dilute expression (Black, Chocolate, Blue and Lilac) also express in the agouti gene. Agouti rabbits with the black gene for colour are Chestnut rabbits--the wild rabbit colouring. Agouti rabbits with the Chocolate gene for colour are Chocolate Agouti. Blue agouti rabbits are called, Opal and Lilac Agouti rabbits are called Lynx. Copper Agouti rabbits have a surface colour of rufus red and are ticked with black tipped guard hairs.

All agouti rabbits have three bands of colour in each fiber length. The bands of colour will be evident when the angora rabbit's coat is opened. The surface colour determines the colour of the rabbit, with the order of the bands of colour defining specifically which colour it is.

The Chinchilla rabbit carries an agouti gene but it is expressed with only two colours repeated along the fiber length. Chinchilla is the black colour expression diluted to squirrel in rabbits that also carry the dilute expression to blue. Chocolate Chinchilla is the Chocolate colour expression diluted to lilac chinchilla in rabbits that also carry a dilute gene.

These 10 day old angora babies are (back to front) Chinchilla, Chestnut and Pearl. The pearl rabbit carries a shaded gene--evident by its nose shading. Their mother is a fawn rabbit and their father was an opal.
Even though there is such variety in acceptable Angora rabbit colours the wool from these rabbits and the yarn made with the wool will always fall into one of 4 colours -- white, fawn, Dark to light cool grey and dark to light warm grey.

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