Genes in the C locus are considered color genes because they affect a rabbit's color pigment, turning color on or off and having varying affects on color (including albinism).
Full Color (C_)
Full color rabbits are allowed to express full coloration and pigment. Let your colors show! This is the typical coloration of most rabbits including the wild agouti (aka Chestnut Agouti
) color. Full expression of color is what makes an Otter have a cream or tan underbelly instead of white, what allows an agouti to be brown instead of gray, or an Orange
to be, well... orange instead of a gray-white Frosted Pearl
Full Color Pigment Colors
When chinchillas is expressed, it washes out the red tones and pigments of the rabbit's color pattern. So instead of Chestnut Agouti
, you get Chinchilla
. Instead of Opal, you get Squirrel. Instead of Orange
, you get Frosted Pearl
. Instead of Otter, you get Silver Marten
. And so on! It's like the grayscale mode of rabbit genes, sucking all the vibrant color out. Though, what we're left with is its own type of beauty. Who wouldn't want a white or silvery rabbit?
If you're familiar with the chinchilla animal, then you can see where the chinchilla rabbit gene got its name. In fact, there are three Chinchilla breeds, and many Chinchilla colors to boot. The standard Chestnut Agouti rabbit, when paired with the chinchilla gene, is a highly prized and popular color in the rabbit world. They are best known for the brilliant rings of grays and whites within their hair shaft.
The shaded gene partially removes color and causes a specific shaded pattern that's similar to that of a siamese cat. With one copy, it expresses as a sepia color with a black base color showing at the points (nose, ears, feet, legs, and tail). These are known as Sable or Siamese Sable. You can also get them in chocolate instead of black. The dilute version is a Smoke Pearl, which is normally blue, but can also be found in lilac.
An interesting thing to remember about shaded is that only one copy is present in the typical shaded color (Sable and Smoke Pear) because the gene is codominant, meaning that it works alongside another gene. In this case, the other gene should be either himi (ch) or albinism (c). So for a Sable or Smoke Pearl to work, you need cchlch (shaded and himi) or cchlc (shaded and albino/rew).
What happens if there are two copies of the shaded gene instead? The answer is Seal, which in its black-based form is sometimes mistaken for black. In its chocolate-based form, it may be mistaken for a chocolate. In its blue-based form, it may be mistaken for a blue, and so on with lilac. That's because when two copies of shaded double up on each other, you get a rabbit who's otherwise colored areas will almost match the base color of the rabbit. Only faint (if any) shaded markings will appear at the extremities (feet, tail, nose, tail, and ears). Aside from them nearly matching the base color, though (which can sometimes make the marking near invisible), Seals have the same pattern as a shaded.
Also known as pointed white or Californian, the himi gene is a form of albinism with heat sensitive points. This means that the points (nose, ears, feet, and tail) may become lighter in warm whether or darker in cold. In warmer climates, or in rabbits who's heat sensitivity leans tis way, the markings may even turn completely white. At the opposite end of the spectrum, some himalayan rabbits will have 'smutty' patches of color on them or be 'chilled,' causing lots of darker fur. Their eyes remain the same color.
Albinism in rabbits is also known as REW (Red/Ruby Eyed White). Unlike himi, the c gene causes complete albinism over the entire body of the rabbit. If an 'albino' rabbit has any colored parts at all (that aren't dirt or otherwise not part of the rabbit genetically), then it is not a true Ruby Eyed White. There are some cases where a nearly white rabbit with the himalayan (ch) gene may be mistaken for one due to hot temperature or genetic predisposition towards having lighter markings.
Although albinism is rare in many animals, rabbits are not one of them. Since albinism isn't known to be a deferment to health, domestic REW rabbits are commonly bred and reproduced.