This article is from the WSSF 2006 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
Colors & Coats
By Nichole Royer
Two Blue Point Siamese rats owned and bred by Nichole Royer.
From our files
Q I have for certain, three female Blue Points from my recent litter. I sold a male to another member that I thought was a Seal Point with strange color. I have asked her to keep a close eye on him to see just what he is. I really need some expert help as to how to proceed from here. These Blue Points are from the sister of the female that gave me my Tailless Seal Point. Will all the offspring from these two sisters carry both genes (Tailless and Blue), or will Blue only come from “Brown Nose” and Tailless only come from “Speed”? Also, my three girls have a definite “lilac pink” cast to them. Is this something different or is this the way Blue Points look until the color has fully developed? I didn’t keep the Blue Points I had before long enough to see how long it took to develop their color. I assume my male has something to do with these colors. The guy I originally bought my Siamese from didn’t breed outside of his original colony as he always got all Siamese. I don’t know if he knew that he had Blue Point as well.
A comparison of 3 point variations of Siamese. On the far left a Seal Point, middle a Russian Blue Point, far right a Blue Point. Notice the grayness of the Russian Blue Point and the Blue Point compared to the brown of the Seal Point. All rats owned and bred by Nichole Royer.
I was told in order to get darker Seal Points, I should maybe try to purchase a dark male and breed darker that way. Other than just looking at who is the darkest, I don’t really know what to look for in the Seal Points.
A Regarding the question on which female carries the Tailless and Blue genes, this gets a little complicated, and I’m going to simplify as much as I can. When dealing with genetics, you are dealing with probabilities. You can say that a given breeding should give you X% of a certain color. If large numbers of babies are produced, this usually works out about right; however, when talking about a given litter, it is possible for the genetic dice to roll snake eyes 10 times in a row. Thus, the explanation for my litter of Satins that should have been 50% Satins in which I got not one.
A Seal Point Siamese baby on the left compared to the gray Russian Blue Point Siamese baby. Blue Point Siamese will be a very light gray as babies. Rats owned and bred by Karen Robbins.
That said . . . given this breeding, we know both parents are carrying Blue. We also know that your male is carrying Tailless. We don’t know if this female is carrying Blue or not since she didn’t produce any. We do know that your other female is carrying Tailless.
I’ll deal with Blue first since it’s easier. In a given litter from your male and your female, one-half of the babies should be Blue Points, one-quarter of your babies should be Seal Points carrying the gene for Blue, and one-quarter of the babies should be Seal Points who do not carry the gene for Blue. Unfortunately, you can’t tell the Seal Point Blue carriers apart from the Seal Point non-Blue carriers until you breed them.
Taillessness is much harder since it isn’t a simple recessive trait. This being the case, I’m going to say that in any given litter in which you know that at least one parent is carrying the trait for Taillessness, you can figure about one-half the resulting babies are also carrying that trait . . . no way to tell which ones until you breed them and even then it’s very easy to breed two rats you know are carrying Tailless and get no Tailless babies in the litter.
Regarding the color cast of Blue Points, my Blue Points tend to have a different look to them . . . if you didn’t know what you were looking at, you’d think they were very light Seal Points. The difference being that they are grayer. I guess you could describe them as having a pink cast. I’d have to see them to be able to tell you more.
To get darker Seal Points, traditionally the best way to darken Siamese is to breed to a Black Self. I have recently bred my SP Siamese boy to a Self Black female. This is the first outcross I have done in many, many years, and I did it because I really liked the type behind the female. She isn’t as spectacular as her parents were, but she isn’t bad at all and complements my rats well. The babies should be Black Selfs with probably too much silvering to show well. The father of this Black female is a Black Tailless. Her mother is a Fawn. Thus, we know this Black female I have should carry the Tailless gene (50% of her kids should as well).
This Seal Point Siamese litter shows little variation but the one on the far left is a little darker than the rest and is one to keep an eye on as they mature. The rest show even darkness and look promising as well. Nine-day-old babies owned and bred by Karen Robbins.
Your male is without a doubt carrying both Blue and Tailless.
You don’t necessarily have to keep all the Blue Points. They aren’t that hard to produce. If you breed one of them back to her father, 50% of the babies should be Blue Points (and you’ll have a good chance of getting Tailless as well).
It’s really hard to describe how to grade Siamese . . . much easier to show. The first thing I always look at is temperament. It rarely happens (to me at least) but if a baby is really squirrely, nippy, or just doesn’t have the temperament I want to produce, that baby is taken off the list of potential breeders no matter how nice the color. Next, look at the babies’ tails. Do any have white tips? If so, these go in the “pet quality” category. Then, look at their feet. This takes some practice but what you are looking for is white on the feet. Do any of the babies have what looks like a line across their foot with darker hair above and lighter hair nearest the toes. If so, put them in the “pet” category. This is a disqualification on the show bench and these babies should not be used for breeding. If your babies have good dark feet, you may see some toes that are lighter than others. These are white toes and are a fault. Ideally, you want to see color on the little tuft of fur that comes out at the top of the baby’s toenail. That means their entire toe is pigmented. White toes are a fault, the severity of which is determined by the amount of toe that is white and the number of toes involved.
|Grading Siamese: two Seal Point Siamese baby rats. The one on the left is very dark and will have the darker shading and point color when they grow up. Obviously this would be your pick. The one on the right has nice color at this point and wouldn’t be a bad one to keep as well. Rats owned and bred by Karen Robbins.|
The next thing I do is line the babies up next to each other (usually you have to do this two or three at a time). I like to do this first when they are about 10 days old because that’s when you can really see the color best. By comparing them this way (color on the noses, on the neck behind the ears, and on the rump) you can find the babies that are lighter and those that are darker. Picking the one that’s going to be the best from among the darkest group takes experience and practice, and at that it’s easy to be wrong. Usually, you end up with two groups—the “lighter” babies and the “darker” babies.
Next, compare your babies together looking for “type.” Compare length and breadth of head, eye and ear size and placement, length and thickness of tail, etc. In some litters there isn’t much to pick between, particularly if the litter is closely bred. Other litters you see glaring differences. It takes a good eye and lots of experience to predict the conformation of an adult rat based on what it looks like as a 5-week-old baby (I prefer to do this at 6 weeks, you can see it better).
The male out of the darkest category with the least amount of white on his toes and what looks like the best type is your “pick.” Only males in this darkest category should be used for breeding. You want to choose your show and breeding animals out of this darkest category. Rats from the lighter category can be shown (they have no disqualifying faults), but they usually don’t have the color to be competitive. Given no other option, females from the lighter category can be bred, but you will see a higher number of “lighter” babies in her litter. Ideally, all the babies in this lighter category should be placed as pets. All that said, I have to point out that once in a while an “ugly duckling” rat will surprise you by growing up into a beautiful swan . . . something you can never predict.
I used Karen Robbins’ Siamese extensively to breed with my own line. My line had the dark color but white feet and bad type. Karen’s had good foot pigment and much better type. The combination of the two lines, with several generations of inbreeding, gives me the rats I have today.
With a few carefully planned breedings, you will have some very competitive rats.