This article is from the Mar./Apr. 1987 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Geoff Izzard, Life President and Co-Founder, National Fancy Rat Society, England
At the request of your International Correspondent, Mary (Barrie) Macdonald, I have much pleasure in giving a brief resume of the history of the Siamese Rat and how this lovely breed became available to fanciers in the U.K.
In 1978 our Genetical Advisor, Mr. Roy Robinson, intimated his willingness to import on the Society’s behalf some Siamese Rats which he informed us were existent in a laboratory situated at Orlay [actually was Orleans, Ed.] in France. We naturally jumped at the idea and it was agreed to accept Mr. Robinson’s kind offer. A laboratory in Carshalton, Surrey, expressed their willingness to co-operate and share the expenses involved in the quarantine arrangements (at their premises). They would keep the three adult pairs and pass on the first kittens to arrive from each pair. Meantime, the Society’s share of the costs was to be covered by the issue of 5 pound shares, each share entitling the holder to one kitten bred from the imported rodents. In this way it was possible to take delivery of these kittens three months after the parents’ arrival, thus cutting the quarantine period by 50%.
The animals arrived in September of that year and we took delivery of the kittens just before Christmas (what a present!!), care being taken that no one received brothers and sisters.
We were amazed to find that the kittens were not at all like Siamese Cats but had a distinct resemblance to Silver Fawn Hoodeds, although they showed faint signs of dark nose points, which suggests that they originally came from Hooded stock.
Unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately for me!) they were not everybody’s “cup of tea,” as we say here, and only one or two of us persevered with the Variety. It was only after a cross with a Black Berkshire doe that the hooded pattern was lost at the kitten stage and the reddish tinge disappeared. But it was a mistake to use a Berkshire as this did not help to eliminate the white hands and lower half of the tail, although nose and hind feet points were darkened. Of course, the Fl litter consisted of all black kittens and they had to be bred back to the “Orly” type, resulting in the F2 litters being approximately 50/50.
From there on, the hard work began, viz: very strict selection and continual “dipping” into the Blacks but it paid off, although it was not until 1983 that (in my strain) white spotting in the form of white hands and part of the tail became the exception rather than the rule and the colour crept further and further up over the rump. The belly still remained virtually white (another character of the Silver Fawn). Then along came Dusky Surprise and his “wife” Dusky Princess, BEST IN SHOW and Runner-up at the Bradford Small Livestock Show and parents of the original stock you received from the Society in 1983. But we were still not there.
Then, in 1984, as the result of continual selection, a buck appeared with a distinctly grey belly. Then a further outcross, this time to a lovely Silver Grey buck, with no trace of white spotting, which came from Rivendell Stud and this, coupled with a very cold spell at date of birth, resulted in the darkest litter I had ever seen—in fact they were so dark in the nest that I thought they were throwbacks to their S/G grandfather. They are, at the time of writing, 11 months old and the two best bucks, Tai Pan and Tristan are both expectant fathers now, after a successful show career. (Barrie has seen their father but they are even better). Where to now? Blue points, Red points!?
I would therefore suggest that you Siamese enthusiasts should mate your best Siamese to Pure Black or Silver Grey, with NO WHITE SPOTTING WHATSOEVER (this is important). You will not get Siamese in the Fl’s but if you mate these back to Siamese you will get approximately 50% of each in the F2’s.
If you want to breed Himalayans, your first step is to use a black-bred albino to a Siamese—you may get Hims. the first time round but I warn you, you will have to wait a long time for the points to show and you will find it difficult to get points on the hands and tail to start with.
Unlike the Siamese, which are born dark sepia, the Hims. are born white and the points may not come for 8–10 weeks, so you will have to keep the entire litter. Any apparent albinos which may turn up in a Siamese mating should not be discarded as in all probability they will turn out to be Hims.
Both Siamese and Himalayan breeds carry the same gene, viz: the Himalayan gene (double and single respectively) and it is called “Himalayan” because it is affected by temperature, the colder the temperature the darker the pigment.
I am very proud of the fact that our Society has become an International Brotherhood and it was lovely to hear of Eva Kingsepp’s visit (and judging engagement) to your part of the world. Maybe, one of your members will return the compliment either to Sweden or England and/or both. It is good that we all get together and it was nice to see the Macdonalds at one of our shows in 1985.
Thank you for asking me to write this short article and I hope I have made myself clear. Geoff Izzard, Life President and Co-Founder, NFRS.