Fancy rodents do inhabit a whole “world” of variety, one that can be both confusing and overwhelming. The best way to become conversant with all the wonderful colors, patterns, and combinations is to attend a rat and mouse show.
You will never again think of a mouse as “plain” or a rat as “ordinary” once you’ve seen just how beautiful these domesticated animals really are!
(Since dormice are not shown in competitive exhibitions, they will not be discussed in this chapter.)
There are three body types in mice:
Rats have three body types:
The term “English” doesn’t really describe a body type, so much as designating a mouse that has English blood. “Tailless” is self-explanatory for both mice and rats. The preference is that there be no tail at all, but if a shortened tail is present, it must be perfectly straight.
Gremlin mice have one normally placed ear, and one on the side of their head. Standard rats have ears that are upright and well-spaced with an oval shape. Dumbo rats have large round ears that form low semi-circles on the side of the head.
In fancy mice there are 12 potential coat varieties:
- long hair
- rhino hairless
For rats there are seven coat varieties:
- double rex
Coats Common to Rats and Mice
For both rats and mice, the standard coat is dense and thick, with a glossy, lustrous shine. The coats lie flat, but in male rats, slightly longer and coarser guard hairs are permissible. Whiskers should be long and straight.
In rats and mice with satin coats, the hair is thinner, and very fine to the touch but with an exceptionally glossy sheen. In rats, longer guard hairs may be present, but they should not be coarse, and the whiskers are wavy and point in various directions.
For rats and mice with rex coats, the fur lays in waves. In mice, the coat progresses through three stages of development: curly at birth, standing out in all directions, and wavy. In rats, there are obvious guard hairs that can be felt. In both species, the whiskers are curled.
In hairless rats and mice, the animals should be as hairless as possible, with any color and markings allowed. Hairless mice have no whiskers, but if whiskers are present on hairless rats, they must be curled. Rhino hairless mice are identical to hairless, but with deep wrinkling of the skin and oversized ears.
Specific Mice Coats
Some coat types specific to show mice include the angora, which has longer than normal hair with a wool-like consistency and a distinctive “zig zag” pattern. Variations include the Angora Fuzzy and the Angora Rex.
If no zig zag pattern is present, then the mouse is simply said to be a long hair. Again, all combination types are possible, like Long Hair Rex or Long Hair Satin.
Caracul mice have coats with a noticeable wave, but it straightens out more as they age, and so is not as pronounced as that of a rex although it is plush to the touch. The whiskers come in straight, but start to curl after a few days.
Texel mice do have tightly curled fur across the whole body with curly whiskers. The guard hairs are thick, curled, and widely dispersed, remaining in place throughout adulthood.
Frizzy mice are smiler, but the hair is not as curly or crimped in appearance. Overall, however, the texture is coarser and the “frizziness” is quite apparent. Fuzzy mice may have little to no hair, or very thick, curly hair, but their whiskers are curled or crimped.
Finally, rosette mice have whorls of fur placed on each hip in spirals that oppose the standard direction of the main fur.
Specific Rat Coats
Two of the rat specific coats are actually combinations, the Satin Rex and the Double Rex. The Satin Rex fur is densely curled and thick with a coarse, but not harsh texture. The whiskers are short and curl around the muzzle in the direction of the mouth. The satin sheen is pronounced and evident even in the presence of the curling.
The Double Rex coat can vary from the appearance of a partially sheared lamb or even a poodle to a “buzz cut.” There may be small areas of “peach fuzz” on the muzzle, legs, and at the base of the tail. Both the whiskers and the eyelashes should be curled.
Although technically not a coat type, there is another distinct variation, Dwarf rats. They are about one-half to one-third the size of standard rats. Their eyes are big in proportion to the size of their heads, and their ears may also appear overly large. They have busy personalities and are known for exceptionally high levels of energy.
Recognized Mouse Colors
There is an almost dizzying combination of possible colors and patterns in the world of fancy mice. Beginning with the 19 recognized solid or “self” colors. These include:
- black (non-agouti)– Jet black with dark eyes, juveniles display yellow at the base of the tail, ears, genitals, and nipples.
- extreme black– An even deeper black with no yellow evident regardless of age.
- chocolate– Dark, rich brown with brown eyes.
- mock chocolate– A dark, but less intense brown.
- light mock chocolate– A shade lighter than mock chocolate.*
- champagne– Light brown with a pinkish undertone, pink eyes.
- coffee– A softer brown like a cup of coffee with cream, dark eyes.
- beige– A warm shade between tan and off white, dark eyes.
- lilac– An almost blue coat with pink tints suggesting light purple.
- blue– Deep slate blue with purple shading and dark eyes.
- silver– Light chrome-like gray with pink eyes.
- dove– An even mix of blue and chocolate with dark eyes.
- lavender– A mix of silver and champagne with pink eyes.
- recessive yellow– Any shade from red to blonde or dark brown. Reds have pink eyes, blonds and dark browns or sables have dark eyes.
- yellow– Similar to recessive yellow, but with distinct genetic differences and may exhibit white spotting.
- cream– Light, slightly yellow with dark eyes.
- albinoand pink eye white – Appear pure white, but have no pigmentation, pink eyes.
- brown eye white– Pure white, with pigmentation in their coats.
- ruby eye white– Pure white, dark ruby eyes.
* Note that it is often difficult to distinguish one chocolate-toned mouse from the other unless they are compared side by side.
The following shades are also set apart for show purposes:
- agouti– Golden tan with a blue Dark hair on the back, lighter on the sides and belly. Dark eyes.
- cinnamon– Similar to the agouti, but the dark color on the back is more chocolate in tone.
- blueagouti – Each hair is dark blue at the base, progressing through shades of blue toward white at the tip.
- argenté – Yellow top coat with lilac
- silverargenté – Banded hairs progressing from a slate blue undercoat through silver to white at the tip.
- chinchilla– Hairs are blue at the base, gray in the middle, tipped in black. Fox belly and dark eyes.
- silvered – May be completely white with no pigmentation, fully colored, colored with white tips, or banded.
Recognized Mouse Color Patterns
Show mice can also display a broad range of distinct patterns in their coats. The following are accepted for show purposes.
- brindle– Tiger striped from the head to the tail with less distinct stripes on the stomach.
- roan– A mix of white and any other color evenly distributed across the body with more white on the belly.
- merle– A marbled pattern of solid patches on a light base color.
- Himalayan– White with pink eyes and dark points at the feet, ears, nose, and tail.
- color point beige– Cream body similar to the Himalayan, but with darker points at the feet, ears, nose, and tail with dark eyes.
- Siamese– A pointed variation with larger areas of shading at the points and ruby eyes. Very similar to a Siamese cat.
- Reverse Siamese– Any color, but with white points at the feet, ears, nose, and tail. Often the base color is coffee.
- Burmese– Almost any color, but with dark points at the feet, ears, nose, and tail that are the same color as but darker than the body color.
- Sable– Dark on the back fading to a reddish tan hue on the underside and belly.
- Splashed– Mice of any color, but with dark splashes on the body.
- Tanand Fox – A distinctly tan, highly delineated upper color region with a lighter belly.
- Tan– Tan with a dark golden red underside. A definitive line marks the top color from the bottom running down the jaw, along the neck, and sides.
- Fox– Similar coloration to the tan, but with a pure white belly. Seen in all colors and patterns.
Recognized Mouse Markings
After color and patterning, mice are also described by specific markings like “banded” or “belted.” Some markings, however, are not so clearly specific and take a practiced eye to recognize.
- belted– Belted and banded are similar in that both are wide, mid-section markings. Belted mice have white bands that begin on and are at their thickest point on the back. They then come down the side and around the belly, typically narrowing. In especially well-bred specimens, however, the belt is almost perfectly even.
- banded– A solid colored mouse with a white band at the midsection thinner on the belly and broken without connecting at the spine. May be a double band, or so wide half the body is covered.
- piebald– The best way to describe a piebald marking is that the pattern is like that seen on black and white Holstein cattle.
- Dutch– On each side of the face an oval patch begins at the front of the eye and runs back to the ear without touching the whiskers. There may be a white stripe between the facial markings beginning at the nose. Any body color is acceptable, but the spots must be clean cut.
- broken merle– A mouse with a coat combining roan, merle, and white patches of any color.
- broken tan– Mice of any color with tan on the belly and white spotting.
- variegated– White spotted mice, but the edges of the spots are jagged. Not to be confused with splashed, which is a color-on-color pattern.
- rump white and colored rump – White rump with a distinct body color. The line between the two areas should be even and well defined around the body.
- rump black and colored rump – Identical to the rump white, but with a black posterior section.
- tri-color– A mouse with three colors in any mix of splashes, spots, bandings, beltings, variegations, and colors. Most are black, brown, and white.
Recognized Rat Colors
The following are all recognized colors in fancy show rats. Amazingly, the list is even more extensive than that for fancy mice!
- black – Deep lustrous black that runs to the skin.
- beige– Warm, medium tan that is not overly dark.
- American blue– Deep slate blue with a pale undercoat.
- pink-eyed white – White with red eyes.
- black-eyed white – White with black eyes.
- Russian blue– Dark gray with a ticked, heathering
- Russian dove– Dusty, warm gray with darker guard hairs and subtle ticked heathering.
- Russian silver– Pale, icy gray with faintly speckled heathering.
- Russian beige– Pale wheat with blue-gray heathering.
- Mink – Even gray brown with a blue
- silver– Pale, cool blue with frosting of white creating a sparkle.
- champagne– Light, warm sand color.
- pearl – Silver cream. Individual hairs tipped in gray. Belly fur and feet are pale silver
- platinum– Pale blue gray in even tone with matching feet.
- platinumpearl – Even undercoat of blue cream with matching feet. Each hair is tipped in blue gray.
- Havana– A warm, light brown that is the color of milk chocolate.
- black-eyed cream– Creamy white body with no odd colored hairs or patches.
- chocolate– Even, rich brown with no white hairs or patches.
- merle– Base color is mink with distributed pattern of numerous and distinct dark spots.
- silvered – Silvering can be present in any coat or color. The silvered hairs have white tips, which give the coat a shimmering effect.
- agouti – Chestnut brown with gray undercoat and black guard hairs. Belly and feet are silver gray.
- American blueagouti – Overall medium slate with pale gray undercoat and dark blue guard hairs. Silver belly and feet.
- cinnamon– Warm russet brown with even dark ticking the length of the hair. Medium gray undercoat and light gray belly and feet.
- cinnamon pearl– Multiple bands of cream, blue and orange giving a gold appearance with silver guard hairs. Belly is pale silver gray.
- fawn – Bright orange with a pale gray undercolor. Silver guard hairs and silver-creambelly fur.
- Russian blueagouti – Even mixed Russian Blue and agouti with heathering and silver belly fur.
- Platinum agouti– Soft gray ticking over warm cream with an overall blue Undercolor is a lighter blue and the belly and feet are light silver.
- Russian fawn – Golden orange with an even ticking of silverand silver-blue guard hairs. Belly and throat are cream.
- Russian cinnamon– Mixture of cream, light gold, and brown on a silver-blue base with a pale undercoat. Belly and feet are light gray.
The following colorations have been accepted for provisional show status.
- Wheaton Point Siamese– A bright cream coat with even but gradual shading at the saddle and hindquarters. The darkest points are at the base of the tail, on the feet, and at the nose and ears. No white should be present.
- Russian Blue SableBurmese – A warm, creamy blue body with darker points and faint light speckling or heathering. There should be no suggestion of black at the points.
- Russian Blue Wheaton SableBurmese – Warm gray body with ticking over a light gray body. A yellow tone to the coat is normal. There should be no suggestion of black at the points.
- American Blue SableBurmese – Medium warm brown body with a suggestion of blue
- Rose Gray – Intermingled brown guard hairs on a pearl white background create an overall light brown appearance. The belly should be white. Head spots and blazes are acceptable within set parameters.
Recognized Rat Markings
Specific markings recognized in the rat fancy include:
- self – All one color with no markings.
- Berkshire – Underside should be full white with symmetrical markings. The feet and as much as half of the tail end should be white. Head spots and blazes, if small, are acceptable.
- English Irish – Between the two front feet and on the chest there should be a white, well defined, equilateral triangle. All four feet and the tip of the tail should also be white.
- American Irish – A body of any standardized color with the lower belly, tail, tip, and feet showing white markings. On the belly, the spots should be round, even, and of moderate size with no extension to the chest or legs.
- Variegated – Any recognized color on the head and shoulders with a blaze or head spot present. The back should have distinct and clear spots and patches, while the underside is a clean white.
- Dalmatian– Numerous spots of a similar size in any recognized color on a white background.
- Hooded– Rats with a white body and a hood in any accepted color that covers the shoulders, chest, head, neck, and throat. There should be no break or white spots in the hood. The color continues from the center of the shoulders down to the base of the tail in an unbroken line or stripe. As much of the tail as possible should also be colored.
- Bareback– Any standardized color on the head, neck, shoulders, and throat with white back, sides, belly, feet, and tail.
- Capped– Any standardized color on the head and ears as well as the underside of the jaw and chin. The shoulders, body, feet, belly, and tail are completely white.
- Masked– A mask over the face in any standardized color should cover both eyes. The chin, throat, muzzle, jowls, ears, body, and tail are completely white.
- Banded – The feet, legs, underside, sides, neck, and jaw line should be white with a wide band of color on the back.
- Blazed– A blaze is a wedge-shaped, symmetrical white marking. It must start midway between the eyes and ears as a fine point and encompass the bridge of the nose, the nose itself, the whisker bed and the mouth to form a thin triangle.
- Roan – White hairs blended with any recognized color to create a faded or salt-and-pepper look.
- Striped– The legs, underside, and sides are white, creating a thick strip across the back. An inverted blaze in the shape of a V should be present, with the jaw line and underside of the head also to be white.
- Head spot– Clear and distinct white markings centrally placed between the eyes and ears on top of the face.
- Downunder Berkshire– Any recognized solid body color on top with a colored stripe down the length of a white belly. The feet and as much as half of the tail are also white.
- Downunder Hooded– Rats with a white body and a hood in any accepted color. The hood should cover the head, neck, throat, chest, and shoulders. A line should continue from the center of the hood at the shoulders down the spine to the base of the tail. A matching belly stripe extends from the colored chest down to and filling the area between the hind legs.
- Downunder Hooded/Spotted – Similar to the Downunder Hooded above, but with as many side spots as possible. The back and belly stripe should match.
- Downunder Spotted – Back and belly stripes in any recognized color, but as broken and spotted as possible. The appearance should be that of spotting all over the back and underside.
- Downunder Variegated – Any recognized color on the head and shoulders with either a head spot or blaze present. The back should have distinct and clear spots and patches in the same color. There should be a symmetrical and clean belly stripe.
Standardized Rat Color Patterns
In addition to these specifications for colors and markings, the following color patterns are also recognized in the rat fancy.
- Siamese– A Siamese rat’s body is ivory or a medium beige with gradual and even shading. The points should be dark and located on the nose, ears, feet, and at the base of the tail.
- Seal Point – Similar to the Siamese above, the points should be much darker, with the body color the darker, warmer beige.
- Russian Blue Point – The ivory color of the body is in contrast to smokey blue-gray points with some light heathering
- American Blue Point – An ivory rat with cool yellow to brown shaded points with a very distinct level of contrast.
- Burmese– The body is a medium sepia tone with darker sepia points at the feet, tail, nose, and ears.
- Sable Burmese – A rich, brown rat with even darker points at the feet, tail, nose, and ears.
- Russian Blue Burmese– A medium gray body with undertones in tan and subtle ticking. The points are deep gray and found at the feet, tail, nose, and ears.
- Russian Blue Wheaton Burmese– A mid-sand body with ticking in blue and some yellow tone to the coat. Light gray base coat with silvery belly and distinctly darker points.
- American Blue Burmese– Warm, light brown body with some suggestion of blue Darker points in the same shade with a white-sliver undercoat in ideal specimens.
- Russian Silver Point Siamese– Ivory rat with pale, icy blue-gray points with a distinct shimmer. Some heathering is normal.
- Black Eyed Siamese– Medium beige body with dark points evenly shaded and black eyes.
- Seal Point – Medium beigebody with dark seal color shading that is rich and distinct.
- Russian Blue Point – Bright ivory body with smokey bluegray points and light heathering. Marked contrast between the points and body color.
- American Blue Point – Ivory body with cool yellowto brown shading at the points. Contrast should be clear and distinct.
- Himalayan– White base with dark points evenly shaded. Red eyes.
- Seal Point – Dark seal to sepia shaded points in distinct contrast against a white body.
- American Blue Point – White body with cool, subdued points in a yellow/ brown shading.
- Black Eyed Himalayan– White base with dark points and black eyes.
New Varieties – January 2014
The following varieties were recognized by the National Fancy Rat Society in January 2014.
- apricot agouti– Pale apricot with evenly ticked guard hairs in silver. The undercolor is ice blue with a pale cream belly color.
- Essex capped – A white rat with a cap of color on the top of the head and extending a short way behind the ears. The nose tip, however, should be white, and there should be a white triangle between the eyes that points to the back.
- bluepoint Himalayan – White with medium smokey blue points.
- cinnamonchinchilla – Light brown top color intermingled with brown guard hairs over a pearl white background. The appearance is sandy and speckled.
- coffee– A rich caramel to be presented in an even color with no patches or white hairs present.
- creamagouti – Mid-cream background with mixed mid-grey ticking fading down the sides to a pale belly. Lighter fur around the eyes and on the whisker bed.
- marten – A dark gray body with some light heathering. Lighter fur on the face and whisker bed, around the eyes, and behind the ears. The belly is a paler shade of gray.
- powder blue– A pale blue with silver base fur and a pale silver belly. The color should be even, with no white patches.
- pink eyed ivory – Pale creamy white with no odd colored hairs. The ears, tail, and eyes should all be pink.
- Russian doveagouti – A warm gray with pink ticking over a light fawn background. Some heathering, light silver belly, and gray feet.
- Russian pearl – Medium silverwith a cream, undercolor. The majority of the hairs should be pearl tipped in gray, and the top coat has a faint metallic sheen. The belly fur is pale and creamy gray.
- satin– A high sheen coat of any recognized color with a metallic gloss.
- silveragouti – Mid-gray ticking on a pale ivory background with no hint of blue or brown. The ticking on the back fades to a belly of pale ivory. The fur on the face around the eyes and whisker bed is paler.
- turpin – A rat with a complex series of markingsincluding a wide band down the back, two colored triangles from the ears to the points of the eyes, and mixed color on the back giving an appearance of sprinkling.