Northern California Angora Guild

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Those Mysterious Modifiers: Rufus (Rufous)

In this picture there are two babies that are identified as red and fawn.  What is red?  Red is not a part of the ABCDE genetics, it is a modifier that makes the fawn color turn reddish.   It is currently an identified modifier thus it is not as mysterious as Umbros.       

These are bunnies come from Casey's efforts of breeding Red English Angora.  Of the four colored ones, second and fourth from the left are expressing the effect of Rufus while the very right one shows a regular tort.   Of the three that have reddish color, only one can be called "Red".  Why? According to SOP, Red is under the "Wide Band Group" and the wild band group is agouti patterned.   The two on the left are tort and chocolate tort, so they would not be considered as red, they are just tort and chocolate that have the rufus modifier.  

Here is another group of the bunnies that come from Casey's effort of breeding red English Angora.   The second and the fourth can be called Red as they have the reddish wool and agouti patterned.   The first one is a tort with the rufus modifier but not considered as red as it is a self.   Then the middle and the very right bunnies do not seem to be affected by the rufus modifier, they look like a regular tort and a cream.   

Unlike the Umbros modifier, the Rufus modifier can affect both agouti and non-agouti coats.   Though the rufus is not as mysterious as the Umbros darkening modifier, it is still quite unpredictable as it could affect the bunnies in the same litter differently. 

By the way these photos are from many years ago.   Casey is no longer working on the red English Angora.  

Friday, February 22, 2019

Those Mysterious Modifiers: Umbros (Umbrous)

A while ago I had a French Angora litter with two chestnut and three chocolate agouti bunnies.   Mom is a black based fawn and dad a chocolate agouti. 

The three chocolate agouti bunnies grew up to be chocolate agouti adults, the color on all three look about the same.  

The two chestnut grew up to be very different looking.   If you go back to the top photo, they looked about the same as days-old bunnies but now very different.   

This photo shows the back of the two chestnut that have very different colors.  

I had a discussion with our color genetics guru Candy Haenszel, here is her assessment:

"It looks like your chestnuts go from the extreme one way to the extreme the other way.  The more yellowish one is the sandy type of chestnut, and is caused by wide-band gene/s.  I don't know if a rabbit has to have two wide-band genes to be expressed, but I think so.  Wide-band genes widen the yellowish tan band on an agouti.  I can see in the photos, that the dark gray band is a lot wider on the wild gray, and the tan band is a lot wider on the "sandy" chestnut.  Wide-band genes are a wonderful thing to have in fawn and cream, because non extension genes usually leave just a faint grayish color band, and wide-band genes make the yellowish color take over more of the wool, getting rid of the grayish, and making a much better/cleaner fawn/cream.  What I have always heard, is that wild gray is caused by umbros darkening modifiers.  They darken the grayish band of a chestnut into a very dark bluish gray color.  I don't know if they also widen the grayish band, but they must, or that dark bluish gray color wouldn't almost take over the whole color of the wool.  Maybe there is another modifier that is closely linked to umbros that widens the grayish band, or narrows the yellowish band.  I don't know.  I just know that umbros modifiers darken the grayish band into that very dark color.  I wish I knew more about how that grayish band is widened."  

According to a summary in the "Journal of Genetics" on

The Umbros darkening gene only expresses on agouti patterned mice, no visual effect on non-agouti mice.   We are not sure whether such can be applied to rabbits.  If applied to rabbits, then Umbros would not be a viable modifier that darkening my tort bunnies.  Then what is the modifier that accounts for the orangey wool and grayish wool on the tort bunnies? I don't know.   There are many modifiers out there that we don't understand.   We'll conclude by saying "those darn mysterious modifiers"!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Comfy Sofa

What a comfy sofa that we are sitting on.

It's mom's back, safe and comfy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Carol Visits Larnach Castle in New Zealand

Carol in front of the Larnach Castle in New Zealand.  

Larnach Castle was build in 1871 as a private residence but now operated as a hotel and gardens.

Beautiful views.

The garden has received the title of "Garden of International Significance". 

The castle grounds have three hotel accommodations.   The main hotel was fully booked,  Jim and Carol stay at the "Stable".  It's not really a horse stable but it does have a fake house to match the name of the accommodation.

The room has irregular shape ceilings.   At some places the ceiling is so low that Jim cannot stand up.

Sheep are everywhere including the castle grounds and the roads leading to and from the castle.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Carol Visits Ashford Craft Shop in New Zealand

Carol and Jim go on vacation in New Zealand.

Ashford is a must visit in New Zealand.  

Can you spin on such a giant wheel?

Poor Stanley, "Told me to wait here said she won't be long".  Obviously it takes a lot of waiting, why????

One can try on the wheels …

… one can play with the drum carders, ….

… shopping the beautiful New Zealand yarns, …

… and more yarns that are "possum merino"...

… try one's hands in weaving...

… and shop for more yarns, …

… and more yarns.   No wonder "Stanley" turned into a skeleton from waiting a long time.

We thank Carol for sharing her trip to Ashford Shop with us.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Those Darn Modifiers

Here are two tort English Angora bunnies, both have the color genes of: aaB-C-D-ee.  Visually we can see there is a major difference: the one on the left is quite orangey while the one on the left is quite gray.

Same two tort bunnies, photo taken from the top.   The left has orangey wool while the one on the right is more gray.
There is no requirement of bands or rings in self colors and tort is aa, a self.   No one ever questions whether the left one is a proper tort or the right one is more correct.  We accept both of them as tort.

Here are two French Angora chestnut rabbits.    The one on the left is more gray and the one on the right is more orangey or golden.    Both rabbits have the same color genes: A-B-C-D-E-, at the current time, both are called chestnut.

Blowing into the one on the left we see some golden colors on the top wool, fainted orangey bands and mainly it has blue slate bands.   

The one on the right has very distinguish tan/orangey and slate bands.

If we use the current standard the one with the tan/orangey and slate bands are more correct, thus some question the one with the slate blue band being a correct chestnut.

In the ARBA SOP up to 1995, there is chestnut and then there is "wild gray", see the next photo.

The Wild Gray is described on the upper right corner on page 78.  Chestnut is on page 77, as the colors are arranged in alphabetical order.   I was a member of the NARBC standard committee and at the time we thought we were simplifying the names by combining the Wild Gray into the Chestnut as they have exactly the same genotype: A-B-C-D-E.   It is the modifier or modifiers make the wild gray look darker than the orangey chestnut.   I personally did not foresee the issue of the question of the band colors due to the modifier.   To me, it'll make sense to bring back the name of Wild Gray to accept the fact that there are modifiers that make the same color genes look different.  The SOP and showing are more phenotype than genotype, a different name for a different visual color may be a good solution to this dilemma.  

I will urge the vote for the return of "Wild Gray" into the SOP to give recognition to the effect of modifiers.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Self and Agouti Versions of the Same Color, More

At three weeks old, the bunnies are well furred.   The left is the chocolate agouti and the right chocolate, same bunnies as shown in yesterday's post.

The self chocolate's tummy is the same color as the rest of the body...

… while the chocolate agouti has a very light tummy that is almost white.  With fur or short wool, we also can see light eye cycles.

The same two bunnies that are opal and blue are now 3 weeks old.

The self blue tummy is blue, just like the color of the body.

The opal has a very light tummy, and we can see the lighter colored inner ear and the beige nostril and under chin.

Just in case you wonder, these are French Angora bunnies.  Their mom is the multiple Best In Show and Reserve In Show winner Gifta who is a chocolate agouti, and the dad is an opal.