I've come across somethine rather stange & am trying to figure out what's going on...
I had a couple does breed accidently (learned to never take someone's words on the sex of a rabbit, always check), one was a black mutt, one the sister to the buck - both Cali's. Was the Cali's first litter & long story short the black mutt ended up raising was survived of both litters. When their hair came in the white kits had Cali points + gray tipped guard hairs. Thought it strange but wrote it off as either they were actaully the mutts kits or it was maybe from being inbred?
Bought three new does in the spring & started breeding them. 1st 3 litters (from two of the does) were normal. As where a couple litters of Cali x NZB crosses, no gray shading. So imagine my surprise when my last three litters, one from each of the new Cali does all show some level of shading! The most dramatic being the third doe's 1st litter - dark, almost like they are actaully all gray except it's just the hair tips. The other two litters (one of which is just 8 days old) all the kits are lightly shaded, though I think the 5-wk-old litter's graying is fading.
This is common in Californians. It happenes when they get cold. They gray "smutt" will eventually fade out, so its not permanent. Look at what you said, first 2 litters were smutt. Then in the SPRING, you had 3 normal litters. Its warm(er) in the spring, so no smutt. If your last 3 litters that were smutted were born recently (in the fall when its getting cooler) it all makes sense.
I've read the reasoning behind the color change is to help keep the babies warm. Gray attracts more heat from the sun than white. As they mature, they no longer need it so it fades out. Same thing happens to club lambs.
The cold stimulates the melanin pigment in the hair follicles
causing the hair to be black. The same thing can happen if
you shave the rabbit's white fur and expose the
rabbit to the cold. The "white" fur will be black when it comes
back in. I've seen it happen during the summer if the kits
are born on a cooler night and the doe doesn't cover them well.
babies born in the winter are always darker, and when they molt into junior coat, it will come back white. however, you might be interested to know, in my experience, and in the experience of the general rex and cal. community up here, babies born in winter tend to have the darkest points when they molt away their gray. even more so, a baby who falls out of the nest and gets a tad bit chilled is likely to have the darkest points.
That is really interesting! I was wondering if it had something to do with the weather. The darkest ones there were only three in the litter & does first time so it makes sense that they could have gotten quite chilled. Makes me feel much better too as I don't have to worry that my animals aren't purebreds.
So one more question then about Cali coloring - one of my doe's dark points have like shed or faded almost white over the summer. Her cage gets the most afternoon evening sun if that could have anything to do with it. Rest of my Cali's are still medium to dark points. Is this normal? I have a couple sisters that haven't faded so don't think it has to do with bloodlines... Thanks!
I would agree. If the rabbit gets over heated, the color will fade. However, there is a sour point to this. If your animal say sleeps against freezing cold metal bars in the winter, they will develop smut in that area.
That's kind of neat, although I understand both are to be avoided. So to hot = lighter points and too cold = darker points & smoky shading! Guess I'll always be able to tell if they need more/less heat... Thanks everyone!
one other thing to add to your confusion. with a breed that has colors other than cal, such as rex. A rabbit with a white gene and a cal. gene will always have lighter points than a rabbit with 2 cal. genes.
temps wont fix that.