American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2014 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Colors & Coats

Recessive Pearl Rats, Getting Pearl From Two Minks; Untested Recessive Pearl Rats

By Karen Robbins

Recessive Pearl Rats, Getting Pearl From Two Minks

Kimberly Millspaugh, Ratty Rat Rattery, CA, e-mail
Q A while back, Kendra Grazier [breeder in San Diego, CA, Ed.], had some recessive Pearls. Did she ever discuss them with you? There is another breeder now on the East Coast that got a Pearl rat from two Minks, and there is debate as to how that could happen. Just wondering if you ever learned more about the recessive Pearls that Kendra had, or if you have ever heard of such a thing.

A Haven’t heard of these. Normally if you get Pearl out of two Minks, then the Mink(s) are dark phase Pearl. In the one photo the rat’s eyes don’t look black, so I would have to see them in person to be able to tell more. Normally when you breed Pearl to Mink you get Pearl and Mink (Silver Mink), two Pearls bred together get you Pearl and Mink (Silver Mink), two Minks bred together get you Mink unless one/both are dark Phase Pearl, then Mink and Pearl. Dark phase Pearls are said to look like Mink until you blow into the coat. Some dark phase Pearls look more like Pearl but dark (too much mink on the tips) where others look like Mink until you part the coat, and some look like Silver Mink when little but have the whitish undercolor. Pearl has to have Mink to show.

Dark phase Pearl?
A young English female rat matching the description for dark phase Pearl owned and bred by Mayumi Anderson. Photo ©2011 Karen Robbins.

Untested Recessive Pearl Rats

Jeannot T. Maha’a, Alces Stud, Santa Barbara, CA, e-mail
Q I have a rat color that Bonnie Walters calls recessive Pearl. It’s untested and there are very few of us who have it. I’m new to it so I have far more questions than answers.

Bonnie is the only one who has done any work with the recessive Pearl that I know of. Bonnie says the color turned up in the 1980s out of a line of silver chocolate. She doesn’t keep Pearl or Mink so they haven’t factored into her breeding. Of course, I don’t know what silver chocolate really was, and Bonnie no longer has that color. Bonnie says recessive Pearl looks like Siamese in rabbits and it’s highly variable (dark to light) but can be selected for shade and be selected to be quite light. Sometimes they look shaded, but they are certainly not a Siamese color. I read that when the standardized Pearl was first discovered some people thought it was Siamese (true Siamese had not yet been discovered).

A If it is recessive, then breeding to something like Black then breeding those Black kids together will show if it is recessive by coming out in their kids. With regular Pearl, it needs Mink to show so don’t know if anyone has determined if these need Mink/Lilac as well. Another thing you would need to determine is which Mink gene as there is the U.K. (Mink) and at least one but possibly more U.S. genes (Lilac; a.k.a. U.S. Mink or Mock Mink; see Rat coat colors...Our Observations, by Debbi J. Needham 2010, Minks and Pearls by Toyah Leitch, Hawthorne Rats, Glasgow, Scotland, or Australian Cinnamon: ‘Aussie Cinnamon’ by Morgan Christianson). Plus, you also have the Australian Mink which is yet another different Mink/brown gene (New World Downunders by Connie Perez).

Another test would be to breed two unrelated Minks (both types) to see if Pearl shows up first generation. Also, if this Pearl is showing up by breeding two Minks together, it could be because one or both Minks are really dark-phase Pearl (dark Pearl) and that is why it appears to be recessive.

Or, you have Silver Lilac which is a recessive color that can be selected for more silvering, I suppose to the point of looking like a Pearl. The years I bred Silver Lilac I never tried doing this, but rather bred to show standards which doesn’t call for heavy silvering. When I bred two Silver Lilacs, I only got Silver Lilac. Silver Lilac also showed up from non-Lilac parents that carried it and plain Lilac so it was separate from Lilac. I didn’t had silver in other colors though, only on the Lilac. I did sell Silver Lilacs to other breeders back in the late 1970s to early 1980s including Bonnie.

Back in 1985 I did have what I had labeled as Silver Light Chocolate? that was produced from rats from another breeder (Himi x Pearl = Siamese, Black, Silver Lt. Choc.?, Himi?, Pearl). Since Pearl needs mink to show, then more than likely the Himi carried mink of some kind that was the same mink to get Pearl in the litter. Two of those Silver Lt. Choc.? ones bred together produced a litter with what I have listed as Lt. Choc./Brown Lilac, Brown Lilac, Silver Brown Lilac, and PEW. A different breeding in 1986 of different rats, this time it was one of my Black Capped with a Silver Lilac Variegated (happened to be from the same breeder as above) that produced Lt. Choc.?, Lilac/Lt. Choc.?, Silver Lt. Choc., a Pastel/Lt. Choc.?, and 3 Blacks. Two of those I kept were later listed as just Lilac and when bred with others, produced Lilac and Silver Lilac, so more than likely were just too brown of Lilacs. I don’t have any background info on the rats from the other breeder so I don’t know if Chocolate was in there as well to help with the brown influence. I do remember Bonnie theorizing back when I had the Lilac and Silver Lilac that they were a brown/chocolate gene even though they were gray rats. We did then get the real chocolate gene when we imported the rats from the N.F.R.S. in England in November 1983, and they didn’t look anything like the Lilac rats (or Mink, which we also brought in at the same time). The breedings I did when I bred Silver Mink to Silver Mink, I got Silver Mink, or Silver Mink and Mink. Has anyone tried breeding one of these to a regular Pearl to see what happens?

Have you read the articles:

If it looks like Siamese rabbits (which looks like Siamese rats), then I don’t understand calling it recessive Pearl. There are other color versions of Siamese rabbits (also in rats), so is she talking about the Seal Point (standard Siamese color) or a different color? When I hear recessive Pearl I think of the Pearl color (off white with dark gray tipping) but just gotten a different way. I’ve only known of Pearls to have what looks like nose points from the concentration of the tipping there due to the small area and having a darker nose (has to be selected against), not shading. The article by Ann Storey The Pearl Rat: History, Genetics, Breeding tells about the first ones having what looked like points but no mention of shading.

Siamese in rats and mice can vary from dark to light and are selected for the right shade. Right now I have two Siamese male mice—one too dark in body color and his brother more the correct color. I’ve seen plenty of Siamese rats that are not bred for show that have an almost white body color (almost like a Himi) where the correct color is supposed to be more beigey (all a matter of selection and breeding). If it looks Siamesey in color, has anyone tried breeding to Siamese to see what you get? Perhaps they are a Pearl Siamese? Breeders in England are working on a Russian Pearl (dd mm Pepe Russian Dove Pearl), so you can get Pearl in other colors as long as the Mink is there. So Platinum Pearl (Blue + Mink + Pearl) would be possible though I’m not sure there would be enough distinction between colors to know what you had since the tipping on a Pearl is such a narrow band on the hairs. I’ve seen a different color of Pearl that had light brownish tipping rather than the Mink (had a washed out look compared to a regular Pearl), that could have been a Russian Pearl (Russian Blue + Mink = Russian Dove, a light brownish rat + Pearl; it looked like photos I’ve seen of Russian Pearl). Also, breeders have made Mink Point Siamese (mm chch; they have pale gray-brown points/color), just haven’t heard if anyone has made a Pearl Siamese yet.

If you could send photos or bring one or two to a show so I can see them, then I will have a better idea what you are talking about in regards to color and looking siamesey.

Update: I have since seen these in person, and they look just like the Silver Lilacs I bred for many years (1979 to 1990), some are just more heavily silvered than what I had. *

Silver Lilac
A moulting Silver Lilac female owned by Emily Grammer, bred by Bonnie Walters. Photo ©2014 Karen Robbins

Go to Dark Phase Pearl? Rat; Color Typing: Dark Phase Pearl? Rat (PDF)

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Updated September 6, 2020