This article is from the WSSF 2014 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
Breeding & Stuff
By Nichole Royer
From Our Files
QI went to the pet store today and looked at mice. I used the mouse that appears on one of the Rat and Mouse Tales cover as an example. None of the mice I saw look anything like this mouse. Their ears were small, bodies seem short instead of like that one which seems to have long body that seems more stretched out. I forgot to take a good look at their tails but I would assume from the rest of them that their tails would not be good either. If the look of the mice in the fancy mice section of the AFRMA page is what we’re supposed to be going for, then I don’t see how these animals would ever result in good show animals even after several generations because their type seemed so bad. Of course this is just my opinion but I don’t think it takes an experienced eye to see the difference between show mice and the pet store mice. So when I got back home, I looked at the pictures of the different mouse varieties on the AFRMA homepage. I noticed there was a significant difference in the size of the ears of the different mice. So I am unclear on what ear size is preferred, the standards say large ears but some of the pictures show mice of relatively small ears. Case in point, the pictures in the variety section of the page. The mice in pictures No. 1 and No. 2 have large ears; they remind me of bat ears while the mice in pictures No. 3, 4, and No. 5 have smaller ears, or at least they seem smaller in the pictures. Could either one of you please clarify what I should be looking for when looking for a show-quality mouse with regard to its ears. And how the mice in the pictures 1, 2, 3, and 4 stack up in terms of type particularly with regard to the ears?
AYes, the mouse on the front of that newsletter is the
ideal. That is what we all aim for, but . . . in England
they have had over 100 years to breed their mice to look
like what is on the front cover of that newsletter. Even at that, all
their colors don’t have that nice type. What we were showing in
the newsletter is the ideal. You rarely see that kind of type on a
mouse that isn’t either Pink-eyed White, Beige Fox, or Lilac Tan
plus a few others. The only coat types we have good type in are
Standard and Satin. All the rest only come in
though there are a few people working on improving that.
Each time a new color appears, it shows up in laboratory/pet
shop stock. Each one of these colors then has to be bred with
English mice to improve the type. This can take years, and some
colors/markings/varieties (like Dutch, and Frizzie) are genetically
small and short so they will never look like that picture on
the front of the newsletter. This is known and taken into account
when they are judged. For a Pink-eyed White, Beige Fox, or Lilac
Tan to do any real winning, it has to have spectacular type. I had a
Brindle mouse that went Best In Show beat out a pure English
Pink-eyed White. He did so because
for a Brindle he had really
nice type, and though the PEW actually had better type, he wasn’t
as spectacular as we expect PEW mice to be.
When English mice were imported into the U.S., only a few
select varieties were brought over. Thus the number of pure English
colors is very limited. We also have a number of other colors/
varieties that are not available in England. Many of these colors
and varieties are being worked with to produce a typier mouse. It
takes time (I worked on Brindles for 4 years before the BIS
mouse) and lots of patience. If you look on page 8 of the newsletter
with the article on
Type [Winter 1999]
you will see on the left hand side a picture
of two male mice side by side. The darker mouse was my
foundation male for my Brindles. Four years of work and I had
the Best In Show winning mouse on page 34 of that issue (not a
great picture of him). You can take the little pet shop mice and
greatly improve on them. By the way, just for a size comparison,
the light male mouse on page 8 measured 12 inches tip of nose to
tip of tail.
Just because a mouse doesn’t have that kind of spectacular type doesn’t mean it can’t be shown. My Brindles had very nice type for a Brindle, however, they are genetically just never going to look like those Pink-eyed Whites. Frizzies and Dutch will always be small. Many of the colors and markings have never been worked with to create nice type. Thus you don’t find them with nice type.
In your case, I wouldn’t worry too much about type. Nothing you find in pet shops will have good type like that mouse on the newsletter cover. Instead, I’d concentrate on getting a couple mice that would make a good breeding pair and produce showable colors/patterns with whatever you want to work on. Breed them and select babies with good type in mind. Eventually, when you are able to bring in some English blood, you will be able to make dramatic improvements in their type. In the meantime, you can work with what’s available.