LEFT: Standard showing off her white belly; courtesy of Diamond Bar Chins BOTTOM LEFT: Rufio, dark standard male bred here RIGHT: Sande, a light/medium
The standard gray is the wild coat type for the chinchilla and the most common color of chinchilla. With their strong fur qualities, these animals are the base of the chinchilla industry and all chinchilla colors. The standard gray has a white belly and the coat is blue-gray in color. However, if you look at an individual hair, you can see three distinct colors. The base of the hair shaft is called the underfur and is gray. Moving upwards, in the middle of the hair is the bar which should be white. The tip is dark and can range from a dark gray to a blue black to a jet black. The tipping on each hair over the entire chinchilla's body is called the veiling. It is this combination of color (called agouti) on the chinchilla hair that gives the chinchilla its characteristic look. The standard gray chinchilla is darkest along the top, from the nose to the base of the tail; the "line" that this dark color creates is called the grotzen. The standard chinchilla's color then fades to a lighter gray along the sides and eventually to the white belly. All non-standard animals are called mutations or "mutes" for short.
Heterozygous Beige (Hetero Beige, Beige)
LEFT: Squirt, our first beige born here at Chinchilla Chateau. Note the white belly BOTTOM LEFT: Spaz, sister to Squirt showing off her nice fur texture. RIGHT: Pericles, our Grand Show Champion Bowen beige and sire to the siblings
The beige is a dominant mutation which means that the chinchilla only needs one beige gene (either given to him from the mother or the father) in order to override the standard genes and become beige in color. The body of the animal is beige with a white belly. The beige animal also has ruby-colored eyes and often has freckling on the ears and nose. The grotzen is also still evident which just appears as a darker beige along the back. A well-bred beige should have a blue hue to it as beiges have a tendency to oxidize over time and turn an unappealing orange color.
Homozygous Beige (Homo Beige)
LEFT: A young homo beige, courtesy of Ralston Chinchilla Ranch. Notice the translucent light pink eye color. ABOVE RIGHT: Buttercup, our beautiful darker phase homo beige female bred by Bowen Ranch. Her eyes are actually a light translucent ruby color but appears darker if she isn't in bright light.
The homozygous beige chinchilla has two beige genes which intensify the effects of the beige mutation. The homozygous beige is similar in appearance to the hetero beige except the color of the coat is a lighter champagne beige and more creamy-looking. The eyes are also a lighter ruby to jellybean pink color. The belly is also white like the heterozygous beige.
White (Mosaic, Silver, Wilson White, "Extreme Mosaic", "Panda Mosaic")
LEFT: Gizmo, my first chinchilla TOP RIGHT: Inky, a heavily-marked "extreme" mosaic owned by Furry Animals Oh My! BOTTOM RIGHT: Amy, a "silver" mosaic with even gray tipping over her entire body, owned by Kara from Louisiana.
The white mutation is an incomplete dominant mutation. This means that a chin with a white gene will appear mostly white as white is dominant over the standard coloration; however, the white is often not dominant over the entire body, resulting in splotches, gray areas, darker guard hairs, or any number of white/gray patterns. No two white chins are ever the same due to the randomness of the white gene's effects. Whties have dark eyes and the ears have gray fur. The whites only exist in the heterozygous state (just one white gene) because the white gene carries a lethal factor. If a fetal chin is given two white genes, it will die in utero and will be resorbed or aborted. A high quality white will have no creaminess or yellow tinges in its coat and care should be taken to avoid cottony fur types. Extreme mosaic (heavily marked), panda mosaic (marked aroudn the eyes), and reverse mosaic (animal with more dark than white) are just selling terms to describe a white's patterning. They are not a separate mutation.
Black Velvet (Black, BV, Gunning Black, TOV - "Touch of Velvet")
LEFT: Dyamond, a BV female owned by Nan Ebiner, bred by Shoots ABOVE RIGHT: Avi, one of our BV females, bred by Bowen Ranch
The black velvet is a dominant mutation that phenotypically shows itself as an animal with a dark mask on the face and a "cape" over the back. Most of the body is black in color and recedes down the sides to a crisp white belly. The typical texture of a black is also a bit more plush than the other mutations. The black velvet chinchilla is also a very important mutation to the fur industry as it has such a striking contrast from the back to belly color and a pleasing fur texture. A high quality black velvet will have no reddish hues in the fur (as always, we aim for a blue hue), will have a bright white belly and any graying or dark tipping on the chest between the legs should be avoided.
Light, Medium and Dark Ebony ("Hetero" Ebony)
LEFT: Thumper, a hetero ebony courtesy of Alecia. Note the belly color resulting from the ebony genes. RIGHT: A hetero eb named Jonah owned by Catherine of Pitter Patter Chinchillas
The ebony is a unique mutation that is not completely understood. There are a number of ebony and charcoal genes that make up the coloration and the more of these genes a chin has, the darker it appears. Thus, it is considered an accumulative dominant mutation and the term "heterozygous ebony" is not completely accurate. It is more appropriate to use the color phase of the chin (light, medium, dark) to describe it. The ebony mutation causes a "wrap-around" effect on a chin, causing the body color to wrap around the belly. A chin with just a small amount of ebony influence may have a white belly with just a bit of grey tipping while one with more influence will have a dark gray belly which is the same color as the rest of the body. This mutation is sometimes termed "charcoal" but this is incorrectly used in the US as only a few breeders in the UK have focused on preserving the true charcoals, a separate mutation from our ebonies of today. Here in the US, the terms charcoal and ebony are sometimes used interchangably because our ebony animals may contain charcoal genes but our ebonies have glossy fur characteristics unlike the matte pure charcoals.
Extra Dark Ebony - (Homo Eb)
LEFT: Midnight, a homo ebony male owned by Alecia, bred by JAGS. RIGHT: A homo eb , courtesy of Sarah of Ralston Chinchilla Ranch
The extra dark ebonies are solid black chins with glossy fur, resulting from the increased number of ebony genes which they have. Although the term "homo ebony" is often used to describe this mutation, like the lighter ebonies, this is not technically correct as this mutation is not comprised of just one gene in a homozygous form. It is more accurate to call these extra dark ebonies. These dark animals should be bright and clear and care must be taken not to breed any ebony animal with a red cast.
Violet (Sullivan Violet, Afro Violet)
LEFT: Iceman, violet male owned by Alecia. RIGHT: Priest, owned by Jennifer of Sooner Chinchillas, bred by the Ryersons
The violet mutation is recessive meaning a chin must be homozygous (have two violet genes) in order to exhibit the violet color phenotypically. A chin with just one violet gene will look like a standard gray and is called a standard violet carrier (standard v/c, for short). The violet is a light violet-gray color and has a white belly. Although huge strides have been made in getting size and belly clearness into the violet animal, there is still much work to be done with improving this mutation. I commend those who have been putting the effort into the violets thus far!
Sapphire (Larsen Sapphire)
At first glance, sapphires may appear similar to a light standard but they have a blue hue to their fur and pink ears. The sapphire mutation is recessive which means the chin must have two sapphire genes (homozygous) in order to be sapphire in appearance. A chin with only one sapphire gene will look like a standard gray and is called a standard sapphire carrier (standard s/c). The sapphires tend to be weaker animals and careful breeding must be done when working with this mutation in order to further improvement- a strong standard line to breed them to is a MUST!
Uncommon Single Mutation Colors:
Recessive White/Goldbar - (Lowe Recessive White, RW)
LEFT: A young recessive white with faint champagne-colored veiling BELOW: Moonlight, a recessive white female, courtesy of Alderbrook Chinchillas
Lowe Recessive White, 2002 - originated on Robert Lowe's ranch in Enderby, B.C., Canada
The recessive white originated in Enderby, BC., Canada in 2002 and was born to two standard parents in Robert Lowe's herd. One parent was bred by Robert Lowe and the other was bred by Jack Humphreys of Blue Vale Chinchillas in Armstrong, BC, Canada. Kits are born a champagne color, lightening as they grow and then darkening again with maturity. Adults are a creamy white with champagne-hued veiling. They have dark pink eyes. Alderbrook Chinchillas bought out Robert Lowe's herd of recessive whites in 2008. In fall of 2010, we purchased a group of Recessive Whites and carriers from Alderbrook Chinchillas and are very fortunate to be one of the few breeders working on this mutation.
LEFT: Goldie, a Goldbar, courtesy of Chinchilla Park PlaceThe first Goldbar was born on June Baar's ranch in California on May 11, 1995 out of two standards purchased from Ellis Adcock. The sire was from a line that Ellis confirmed was purchased from Doug Wilson. Doug Wilson is not to be confused with the Wilson of wilson white. The name goldbar was given to this recessive white mutation because of the champagne or gold color. Hence the term, "goldbar". It was recently confirmed in 2012 that the Goldbar is the same mutation as the Lowe Recessive white. This was proven by breeding a Goldbar to a Lowe Recessive white and obtaining only creamy white colored offspring. If they were not the same mutation, this crossing would have resulted in all standard colored offspring (carrying the Goldbar and Lowe Recessive white gene)... but, it has been proven! The gene causing the coloring in the Goldbar line and Lowe Recessive line is the same gene!
Unless a new name is given for this color, I will continue to call any animal out of the original Lowe RW lines, Lowe Recessive whites and any out of the original Goldbar lines, I will refer to as Goldbars.
Sullivan Recessive Beige (Pink-eyed beige, Sullivan beige)
LEFT: Gingerbread, a Sullivan recessive beige, courtesy of Chinchilla Park PlaceThe first Sullivan recessive beige was born on Lloyd Sullivan's ranch in the 1960's. The Sullivan beige has pink eyes and have fur which is pale beige in color. It is said that they do not oxidize the way the common Tower beige does as it ages. Today, they are a very rare mutation, being bred by experienced breeders and ranchers to try to improve their fur, as well as produce more of them.
Wellman Recessive Beige (Dark-eyed beige, Wellman beige)
This mutation first appeared in 1954 as a champagne-colored animal with dark eyes. Unfortunately, I cannot find much information or pictures on this recessive and it is not known if this mutation is around any longer.
This mutation first appeared in 1963 to Paul Stone of Oklahoma. To my knowledge, this mutation is no longer bred as many of the Stone white animals also ended up with micropthalmia (abnormally small eyes) or anopthalmia (no eyes).