This article is from the July/Aug. 1996 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Dave Bumford, N.M.C.
Origins: Banded mice were introduced to the Fancy by Mr. Frank Ansell in 1988 and are presently under the 2 year provisional standardization period. They neatly filled a gap left by the demise of the Belted mice and this has caused some confusion in some quarters in the past. The gene involved in Banded is very closely related to Rumpwhite (Rw) and Variegated (Ww) and is called Sash (Wsh) and like Rumpwhite is a dominant. It was spotted amongst the offspring of a cross between two inbred strains of mice at Harwell’s Medical Research Council Labs by a Mrs. D. Napper and can be classed as a spontaneous mutation. The initial findings were published by Mary Lyon and Peter Glenister in “Genetic Research. Cambridge” in 1982.
Appearance: The mice themselves are characterized by a broad white band around the middle of the mouse, most often complete but occasionally broken on the belly and even rarer, looking normal apart from white feet and a white tail tip. Head spots were noticed in some early specimens. The back feet are always white with level stops. The front feet are usually white especially in individuals with white tail markings, which are not penalized by the standard. There are no “zips” under as are found in Rumpwhite.
Breeding: When two Bandeds are mated together, you can expect three types of offspring. Bandeds (Wshwsh, Ed.), Selfs (wshwsh, Ed.) (which cannot “carry” Banded and do not have any white markings at all) and “Charlies” which are “double Bandeds” (WshWsh, Ed.) and which are white apart from the odd patch of color on the head or rump. As in English rabbits these “Charlies” when bred to Selfs will produce whole litters of bandeds.
Bandeds bred from B x B matings usually have a range of band widths, some belly spots but with little or no tail markings. On the other hand, Bandeds bred from B x self (Banded-bred) matings have much more even bands and rarely have belly spots but have more extensive tail markings. The specimens with the neatest front feet markings usually have more white on the tail too. Totally outcrossed to non-Banded bred stock again produces wider bands but extremely wobbly ones.
Selection: As we fanciers have proved over many years, pied markings, either dominant or recessive, do respond to selection, despite the odds and Bandeds are no exception. The stock now, when compared to the early specimens, exhibits clearer, straighter bands with neat socks and of course, much improved type and size due to their easy outcrossing. To produce exhibition specimens, it is obvious to mate up stock, in the time honored fancier’s fashion, of best marked Banded to Banded but occasionally mating Banded to Self (Banded bred) if the band widths become reduced. As has been pointed out, those mice with the neatest front feet have more white on the tail and this looks like where the major work is yet to be done. It would be unwise to add any recessive pied genes to dark-tailed stock with similarly dark front feet as this will only produce very pied mice with enormous band widths. Pure selection is the only way, choosing breeding stock with whole colored tails and white front feet where possible.
Finally, the notorious “pong” which accompanied early Banded males, seems to have decreased with outcrossing, at least in my stock. Perhaps it was produced by a rogue gene for increased urea production which was present in the original stock from Harwell? Similarly, a “shaggy” gene, which does not appear to be long-haired, has surfaced in some stocks now and again. The original stock were long-haired but obviously so and it has been segregated out. There have been instances of normal, long-haired and shaggy specimens in the same litter in the past. Perhaps this “shaggy” gene may be of some use to Long-haired fanciers? One or two fanciers have also reported Silver-greys in the litters occasionally. This is caused by a gene called buff [bf], a recessive, which turns Agoutis into Chinchillas on the shoulders and in Selfs, silvers the shoulders with white hairs. This gene again was present in the original stock, is very non-descript in my opinion and should be eliminated from any breeding stock.
Note: Banded is now recognized in the N.M.C.