The following is a brief description of the rat markings as recognized by the American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association. See Fancy Rat Genes: Marked for genetics.
For complete details of these Standards including points, faults, and disqualifications, please refer to the AFRMA Show Regulations & Standards book.
Note: The pictures on this page are not meant to be true representatives of the animal’s color. Because of differences in monitors (CRT/LCD) and how the monitor is adjusted, the colors may be different. Seeing in person is always best.
|ENGLISH IRISH - White equilateral triangle on chest with front feet white
and back feet white to half their length. The triangle on chest to be of good size, clear and devoid of
brindling, not to extend in a streak down the belly but occupying all the space between the front
legs. The body color shall conform to a recognized color. (English, N.F.R.S.)
Note: Already had marking called Irish prior to the import of the English rats in November 1983, so named this marking English Irish because it was England’s version of Irish
Black English Irish rat owned and bred by Gina Hendricks. Photo ©1996 Craig Robbins.
“Variation in the Hooded Pattern of Rats, and a New Allele of Hooded”
|IRISH - Irish rats may be shown in any recognized color. The top color
is to be judged as to the respective color. Distinctive markings are the white underside, with four white feet and a
white tail tip. The under marking should be a pure clean white, of moderate size and as even in shape as possible,
not extending onto the legs, sides, or chest. The white feet should resemble the stops on a Dutch
rabbit. The tail should be colored for most of its length, with a white tip of no more than one-fourth
of its total length.
Black Irish rat owned by RoseAnn Rubino. Photo ©1990 Larry Ferris.
|DOWN UNDER - Top marking 20, belly marking 20, color 10
Down Under rats may be shown in any recognized color and markings with Vari-Capped allowed only in Down Under class, adhering to the standard for that marking, with the exception of English Irish, Irish, Masked, or Essex as Down Under doesn’t display visibly with these markings. To have standard markings on the topside of the rat and corresponding belly stripe or spots. A belly stripe is to be as solid and symmetrical as possible and not contain any white spots. Belly spots are to be numerous and evenly distributed. Vari-Capped Down Unders to be Capped rats with the addition of spotting down the spine and sides like a Variegated rat plus the addition of the spotting on the belly.
Faults: Uneven belly markings and demarcation; white markings on the belly stripe; incomplete belly stripe; inadequate spots; spots in white areas on Hooded.
Disqualifications: Extremely poor belly stripe; belly stripe too large so as to not have any white showing on Berkshire; lack of belly spots.
Genetics: unknown; dominant marked gene; some genetics remain unknown, in particular it is unknown if it is homozygous lethal as not many examples of 100% Down Under litters can be found; further test breeding is necessary; could be like the Var. rats that you won’t get all Var. kids—always get hs Berk. in the litters, then some mismarked Var., and sometimes Capped.
Note: Appeared in Australian breeder Cindy Cairns Rattery, The Rodent Ranch, in 1998. Name of Down Under suggested by U.K. breeder Sue Brown. Can be undisplayed on Self rats or rats without significant markings.
[Standardized June 13, 2015]
Breeder’s Note: Breeders that get non-Down Under Vari-Capped, need to work on getting that marking standardized into the regular Marked category.
Black Berkshire Down Under Standard owned and bred by Kimberly Millspaugh & Dustin Cheek. Photos ©2013 Karen Robbins.
Black Hooded Down Under Standard owned by Gina Hendricks, bred by Bonnie Walters. Photos ©2005 Karen Robbins.
Black Blaze Variegated Down Under Standard owned by Kimberly Millspaugh & Dustin Cheek, bred by Bonnie Walters. Photos ©2013 Karen Robbins.
Black Vari-Capped Down Under Standard owned and bred by Nicole Marlin. Photos ©2015 Geri Hauser.
Black Dalmatian Down Under Tailless owned by Jeannot T. Maha’a, bred by Bonnie Walters. Photos ©2015 Karen Robbins.
|BERKSHIRE - Berkshire rats may be shown in any recognized color. The top
color is to be judged as to the recognized color. Distinctive markings are the colored top with a completely white
belly and white feet and tail, with a small white spot between the ears. There should be an even line between the top and
bottom color. The white markings should be a pure clean white.
Note: Hh (Hooded) Berkshires don’t have as much white on the belly and normally don’t have a head spot; Berkshires from Variegated/Dalmatian have a head spot and more white on the belly; Chinchilla Berkshires will have a head spot or Blaze and near perfect markings
Read the article
Dalmatian & Variegated Rats: Test Breeding For Genetics
Chinchilla Blaze Berkshire rat, owned by Julie Klaz. Photo ©1999 Craig Robbins.
Black Berkshire Satin with head spot owned by Jozzette Hagemann, bred by Karen Robbins. Photo ©2015 Karen Robbins.
|ESSEX - To be recognized in any standard color, remembering
that the effect of the gene responsible is to lighten the top color. The darkest area is along the spine, becoming
less intense down the sides of the animal. The gradual fading of color continues onto the belly which is off white,
with no spotting of darker color. When viewed from above, the fading effect should be symmetrical, having no clear
demarcation. The fading effect also to be seen on the legs so that the feet are also off white. There should be no
obvious patches of contrasting color. Pied tails not to be penalized. A head spot is essential; this must be well defined,
centrally placed on the forehead and symmetrical.
Genetics: Unproven lethal dominant gene on H locus tentatively named Hro * (N.F.R.S.; accepted April 30, 2005)
Note: Found in a pet shop in England in 1996 by Sheila Sowter, developed in Essex by breeders, originally called
Robertrats; fading gene causes the
Berkshire marking,not a separate spotting gene; when mated to Self, you get Self and Essex (in a Berkshire pattern), not various types of markings, when mated to Hooded, you get
Capped/Baldie; fading effect best seen on dark B.E. colors (Agouti, Cinnamon, Blue, Russian Blue, etc.), effect lost on ruby-eyed and pink-eyed colors, wasted on Cinnamon Pearl
Agouti Essex rat owned and bred by Mayumi Anderson. Photo ©2007 Karen Robbins.
|VARIEGATED - Variegated rats to be shown in any recognized color and are
similar to Hooded rats but instead of a spine marking, will have patches and flecks of color on the back side. The
head and shoulders to be solid like those of a Hooded rat with a white spot/star on the
forehead which should be centrally placed, round or oval in shape, and no bigger than the rat’s
eye. The variegation (patches and flecks of color) to evenly cover the rest of the white body from
the shoulders to the tail including the sides and tail. Underside (including belly, chest, and throat)
to be white, devoid of creamy tinge or staining. (Rev. August 19, 2006)
Note: Based on actual breeding experience using animals with known backgrounds, the current genetic codes are not viable, evidence shows there are several genes that work in combination with each other and linkage may be involved; when breeding two Variegateds together you get head spot Berkshire and Variegated, then some Capped and mis-marked Variegated, never Self or Hooded; Variegated can range from little to no markings on the back and appear Bareback but with a head spot to a very large patch on the back to appear almost like a Berkshire.
For more photos, see the AFRMA Facebook pages:
Black Variegated rat owned and bred by Karen Robbins. Photo ©1996 Craig Robbins.
Black Variegated female showing the typical white throat/chest owned and bred by Karen Robbins. Photo ©2012 Karen Robbins.
|BLAZE - Blazed rats may be shown only in Berkshire or Variegated classes
in any recognized color. A wedge shaped blaze of white should run from muzzle to ears including the whisker beds,
tapering to a fine point at the ears. Other markings as for respective pattern.
[Standardized April 15, 1989]
Chocolate Odd-Eye Blaze Berkshire rat owned and bred by Helen Pembrook. Photo ©1998 Craig Robbins.
Black Blaze Variegated rat owned by Gina Pomeroy, bred by Hilloah Whealser. Photo ©2007 Karen Robbins.
|DALMATIAN - Dalmatian rats may be shown in any recognized color. Markings
will be similar to the Variegated mice with color splashes/spots on a white background, and free from any solid
clear-cut markings. The splashes should be numerous and ragged in outline, but approximately equal
in size, and well distributed over the entire body. (Geri Hauser)
[Standardized April 15, 1989; name change from American Variegated to Dalmatian October 13, 1991]
Note: Originated November 12, 1986, by Geri Hauser out of Variegated stock; dominant lethal gene, works with Variegated, extends the white breaking up the color into patches and dilutes and silvers the color
Silver Black Dalmatian 11-day-old kitten rat owned and bred by Karen Robbins. Photo ©1999 Craig Robbins.
For more photos, see the AFRMA Facebook page:
|HOODED - Hooded rats may be shown in any recognized color. The sides,
legs, and feet should be a pure clean white, free from spots or brindling. The hood should cover the head, neck,
and shoulders without a break, showing no white on the throat or chin, and should run in an even line around the
body. The spine marking should extend in an unbroken line from the hood to the tail, be of moderate
width, and be free of ragged edges or brindling. The tail should be colored at the base, then white
to the end.
Black Hooded rat owned by Nichole Royer. Photo ©2000 Larry Ferris.
Read the article on Hooded.
|BAREBACK - Bareback rats may be shown in any recognized color and
will have markings like the Hooded rat but without a spine marking. The back, sides, legs, and feet should be a pure,
clean white, free from spots or brindling. The hood should cover the head, neck, and shoulders without a break,
showing no white on top of head, throat, or chin, and should run in an even line around the body. (Karla
[Standardized October 19, 1986]
Note: A Hooded rat with the spine marking bred off; created by Karla Barber in 1984
Black Bareback rat owned and bred by Karla Barber. Photo ©Karla Barber.
Article: Karla Barber & Bareback Rats - article published in the ARMHS Newsletter Vol. 1 No. 2 July 1990.
|CAPPED - Capped rats may be shown in any recognized color. The body
should be a pure clean white, free from spots or brindling, with a colored head. The color should be confined
to the head area only, not appearing on the throat area. The cap should be free of ragged edges or brindling,
follow the line of the lower jawbone in an even line and not extend past the ears.
Black Capped rat owned and bred by Karen Robbins. Photo ©1995 Craig Robbins.
“Variation in the Hooded Pattern of Rats, and a New Allele of Hooded”
|MASKED - Masked rats may be shown in any recognized color. The body is
to be a pure, clean white, free from spots or brindling. A colored mask to cover the face, to include just around the
eyes and above the nose, not to extend down the sides of the face onto the jowls or under the chin.
(Leah Soverns/The Rat Room)
[Standardized November 15, 1992]
Agouti Masked rat owned and bred by RoseAnn Rubino. Photo ©1989 Geri Hauser.
For complete details of the Standards including points, faults, eliminations, and disqualifications, please refer to the
AFRMA Show Regulations & Standards book.
Purchase the AFRMA Official Color Standards Rat book.