American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2008 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Colors & Coats

Making Fawn Rats; Colored Mice

By Karen Robbins

Making Fawn Rats

Aubrey Bryant-Wallis, Poke A Dot Rattery (DOT), San Diego, CA
Q I was wondering if you knew of any ratteries in California or Oregon that breeds nice Hoodeds or Fawns, preferably together but that isn’t a requirement.

A I don’t know of anyone doing those types specifically. Bonnie Walters used to do them. You would have to contact the breeders in the RatsPacNW club to see what is being bred up there. Unfortunately, Fawn is one of those old colors that no one seems to be breeding anymore with all the Blues, Burmese colors, and Dumbos that are more popular with pet breeders. If all else fails, get an Agouti and Beige and breed together to make your own.

Q Can I really just breed an Agouti to my Beige and get Fawn? That seems way too easy.

Fawn rat
A Fawn rat owned and bred by Karen Robbins.

A Fawn is a ruby-eyed Agouti (A- rr), Beige is a ruby-eyed Black (aa rr), so to make Fawn you need the ruby-eye gene and since Beige is ruby-eyed, just breed that to Agouti to make the ruby-eyed Agouti (Fawn). So, since you already have Beige, you just need a nice Agouti.

Colored Mice

Marilyn Weaver, Oklahoma City, OK
Q I am interested in learning more about the different kinds of mice, breeding them, and finding a market for them. I have recently started breeding colored mice and have many colors that I don’t know what they’re called. Is there a book or other information available with pictures or color charts so I can tell what colors I have? I find them very interesting. Every litter has at least one new color that I didn’t expect. I seem to have several shades from white to varying shades of tans to browns and blacks and a few spotted ones. I would like very much to find a three-colored one like a calico cat! I’ve started with 4 pairs, 2½ months ago, and I now have 64 mice!

A You can start at our web site to see the different colors of mice and learn some of the basics on breeding. There are many other web sites available that have photos and articles on breeding—the Finnish Show and Pet Mice for example is a good one.

Unfortunately, there is not as high of a demand for pet mice as there is for pet rats. You can try contacting your local pet shops, but many now only purchase stock through commercial breeders. Many pet rat breeders advertise on their own web sites. There are various forums/groups/lists on the Internet that deal specifically with mice, or rats and mice that you could post on that you have mice for sale. Other places to advertise would be putting ads in your local pet newspapers/magazines and on the bulletin boards at your local veterinarian offices, feed stores, pet shops, etc.

True Calico mice colored and marked like a Calico cat would be very pretty indeed and is something fanciers have been on the lookout for many, many years. For a while, the National Mouse Club in England had a gene that was a Calico coloring but had a waltzing defect attached—the varitint-waddler (Va) which are also deaf. They were never able to separate the two, so no longer breed them. The only other Calico mice known are what is called a “somatic mutation” where the three colors show up on the one animal but this condition will not reproduce. You will only get regular colored mice in the litters.

You can “make” tri-colored mice by breeding the recessive spotted gene (ss) into Brindle, Splashed, or Sable to make Broken Brindle, Broken Splashed, or Broken Sable. You can also use the dominant spotting gene (Ww, Variegated) and make Variegated Brindle, Variegated Splashed, etc. The Merle mice combined with the spotting gene gives a tri-colored effect.

Some books that you can read more on genetics and colors of mice are:

  • The Coat Colors of Mice, A Model for Mammalian Gene Action and Interaction, by Willys K. Silvers, Springer Verlag, 1979. ISBN: 978-0387903675. Out of print. Online at www.
  • Mouse Genetics, Concepts and Applications, by Lee M. Silver, Oxford University Press, 1995. ISBN: 978-0195075540. Still available to purchase. Online at
  • Biology of the Laboratory Mouse, by The Staff of The Jackson Laboratory, Earl L. Green, Editor, Second Edition, Dover Publications, Inc., New York 1966. ISBN 0-486-63185-0. May still be able to find copies. Online at
  • Exhibition and Pet Mice. Tony Cooke. 1977. Spur Publications, England. ISBN 0-904558-25-8. An excellent book! Also has mouse genetics. Written by an English fancier. Out of print.
  • The Genetics of the Mouse. Hans Grüneberg, Ph. D., M.D., D. Sc., Second Edition, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1952. Out of print. May be able to find used copies online.
  • AFRMA Mouse Genetics. *

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Updated January 23, 2015