HistoryThe history of the Cinnamon rat is closely tied in with that of the color Mink (also Lilac in AFRMA). Mink acts on Agouti to produce the Cinnamon color.
According to Nick Mays’ The Proper Care of Fancy Rats, and the National Fancy Rat Society Standards of Excellence (1986), Mink rats were recorded as Blue circa 1905?. There is no way now to tell if the color being described was Mink or one of the Blue genes we now have. If Mink was in the fancy during the early 1900s, it is certainly likely that Cinnamon was produced.
In the 1920s, Cinnamon was first introduced as Fawn Agouti, and this color made its appearance in the standards in 1935. It is interesting to note that none of the other Mink derivative colors like Cinnamon Pearl and Pearl appear until the late 1970s. Minks were bred as Mink by Genesis Stud (U.K.) into N.F.R.S. standards in 1977. In 1976 the name Fawn Agouti was changed in the N.F.R.S. Standards to Cinnamon.
Mink was not one of the original colors (Agouti, Black, Beige, Fawn, and Pink-Eyed White were the only colors we knew of in the early 1970s) available in the United States when the rat fancy was born in this country. In a local pet shop on May 17, 1978, Karen Hauser (Robbins) found a unique gray-brown Hooded rat of a color never before seen. Paying a whopping $1.06 for him, she named this 6–8 week old male “Hershey.” (He then became the foundation sire of creating Lilac, Cinnamon, and Silver Lilac colors.) The color bred true and was named Lilac after the rabbit color it resembled. It was only many years later that it was discovered the U.S. Lilac and the U.K. Mink were genetically identical, simply being selected for different shades.
Cinnamon rats were bred from Lilac with the first ones being born in Karen’s rattery March 25, 1979, and were two Cinnamon Hoodeds named “Cinnamon” and “Spice.” Cinnamon was first exhibited at a MRBA show on April 22, 1979, by Karen Hauser (Robbins). The first Cinnamon to make Champion status was a Cinnamon Irish named “Reggie” owned by Susan Melton back on May 17, 1981. The first Cinnamon to go Best in Show and become Grand Champion was “Todoe” owned by Gina Hendricks on November 13, 1994.
ColorThe Cinnamon color is described by the AFRMA standard as: “Color is similar to Agouti, except the color is a warm russet brown, with medium slate at the base of the hair. Coat is evenly ticked with chocolate. Belly color to be as Agouti, but of a lighter shade. Eye color is ruby or black.” The N.F.R.S. standard is similar, saying it is “to be a warm russet brown, evenly ticked with chocolate guard hairs. Base fur mid-gray. Belly fur as Agouti but of a lighter shade. Foot color to match top. Eyes black.”
BreedingThe best way to start off breeding Cinnamon rats is to purchase a quality pair or trio from a reputable breeder. Unfortunately, they are not particularly common at this time and finding quality base stock could prove to be frustrating.
When you breed the Agouti with the Mink/Lilac you are likely to produce an entire litter of Agoutis (or some Agoutis and some Blacks). The only way you will get Cinnamon in this first litter is if your Agouti is carrying Mink/Lilac. Keep the best of the Agouti babies produced, and either breed them together or breed them back to their Mink/Lilac parent. Either choice will produce some Cinnamons.
Litters of Cinnamons can seem disappointing at first since it takes time for the babies to color up. Those that appear the brightest are the ones to keep.
Problems that are common in this color are patchiness and a tendency for the color to be too gray. All Cinnamon rats will appear patchy when they are moulting, and this is normal. Some Cinnamons will stick in the moult or develop a permanently patchy appearance. Often, these look like they have two or three different shades of brown in patches all over their bodies. This trait is often genetic in nature and these rats should not be chosen for breeding. Likewise, those that are too brown or too gray should be avoided.
It is very easy to breed for color and lose sight of the conformation of the rats you are producing. One half of what a rat is judged on is the way they are put together. This is a particularly important feature with all the Agouti colors since we tend to see the very best type on these rats. Avoid breeding those rats that do not measure up.
ShowingShowing Cinnamons is very simple. They require very little in preparation for a show. They rarely develop any type of staining, and only need to be bathed if they are truly dirty. As with any rat that is being shown, make sure their tails are clean and their toenails trimmed. Otherwise, a wipe down with a silk cloth will bring out their shine and remove any dust.
When judging the Cinnamon, a judge is looking for that characteristic
Cinnamon rats are not difficult to breed, and it is possible to do
so in very small numbers. It is also possible to breed both Agouti
and Cinnamon, or Cinnamon and Mink/Lilac in the same rattery and run
the lines together using each as an outcross/line breeding for the
other. Cinnamons can do very well on the show bench, and a good specimen
really stands out. All in all, Cinnamon rats are one of the better
colors for those new to the rat fancy and can be enjoyed by the experienced
fancier as well.
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