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Rabbit Genetics for Cavy Breeders

This article assumes you are knowledgeable in cavy coat color genetics. If you aren’t familiar with genetics at all, start with Genetics 101. On the other hand, if you are familiar with genetics, but not cavy genetics, start with Rabbit Genetics. If you meant to look for the page about cavy genetics for people familiar with rabbits, go to Cavy Genetics for Rabbit Breeders. If you breed rabbits and just want to know how the varieties compare with cavy varieties, go to Rabbit and Cavy Variety Comparison.

Many of the genes in rabbits and cavies are the same, but they are just enough different to confuse people who are familiar with one and trying to learn about the other. This article is an attempt to clear up the confusion by going through each series and compare genes from one species to another.

Agouti Series
A – Agouti, same as the A gene in cavies, it creates defined rings on each hair resulting in an overall ticked appearance over the body. While the eye circles, belly band, etc. are all present in rabbits as they are in cavies like there are in cavies, it is desired for these to exist in most breeds, unlike in cavies where it is preferred for these to be minimal.
at – Tan, the same as the at gene in cavies, removes the ticking, leaving only the black while leaving the red portion of the belly band, eye circles, etc. unaffected.
a – Self, the same as the a gene in cavies, removes all ticking as well as the eye circles, belly band, etc. leaving a fully black animal.

Black Series
B – Black, same as the B gene in cavies, it leaves both the red and black pigment unaffected.
b – Chocolate, same as the b gene in cavies, it dilutes the black pigment to a chocolate, while leaving the red unaffected.

Color Dilution Series (incompletely dominant)
C – Full Color, same as the C gene in rabbits, it leaves the red and black pigment unaffected, completely dominant over the other alleles in the series.
cchd – Dark Chinchilla, a gene unique to rabbits, but similar to the cd gene in cavies, it removes all red from the coat, leaving the black pigment unaffected.  This results in a chinchilla (agouti) or marten (tan).
cchl – Light Chinchilla, also different from any gene currently in cavies, this removes all red pigment like cchd, but also removes part of the  black pigment, leaving a shaded animal.
ch – Himalayan, this is the same as the ch gene in cavies, removing all red pigment, but allows for black pigment to be produced based on temperature, creating what we know as the Himalayan.

Dilute Series
D – Normal, same as the D gene in cavies, it leaves both the red and black pigment unaffected.
d – Dilute, same as the d gene in cavies, it dilutes the black pigment to a dark blue color while leaving the eye color unaffected. This is a newly discovered gene in cavies, but has existed in rabbits for a long time.

Extension Series
Es – Steel, a unique gene in rabbits, but similar in affect to the solid gene.  This extends the base color toward the tip, removing the ring color in agoutis, it also causes the color extend into the areas normally lighter – the belly, chin, inner legs, etc. are all tipped.
E – Full Extension, same as the E gene in cavies, it leaves both the red and black pigment unaffected.
ep – Partial Extension, same as the ep gene in cavies, this creates a harlequin or brindle effect. Unlike in cavies, an agouti animal shows as a red and black patched animal, rather than having patches of agouti and red.
e – Non-Extension, similar to the e gene in cavies, it removes most black pigment, this creates a red animal in combination with agouti and a tort when combined with self.

Pink-Eyed Series
P – Normal, this leaves both the red and black pigment unaffected.
p – Pink Eye Dilution, this gene has only recently been discovered in rabbits and so far has been used to create a “lutino” Netherland Dwarf – an orange with red eyes.  Genetically, it is the same as the p gene in cavies and could be used to create similar coloration as appear in cavies.  No pg gene has been discovered in rabbits yet.