Silver rabbit

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The silver rabbits are a group of rabbit breeds . The common feature of these breeds is the penetration of the coat with colorless hair, which leads to the typical silvering.

Formation of silver growth

Silver rabbits owe their color to the colorless hair that penetrates their fur. The formation of these silver hairs occurs when the accumulation of pigment-forming cells in the hair roots, which is common prior to the hair change, does not occur. White hair then grows back at this point. The cause of this defect is the mutation of a gene that in the German genetics of the domestic rabbit system with the symbol p in the mutated state depending on the state with P1, P2, P 3, in the English system with Si (wild type) or (si, mutant) referred to as. In the choice of symbols, the German system takes into account the fact that the silver coating is dominant compared to the wild type.

History of the silver rabbit

Silver rabbits have been known for hundreds of years. Charles Darwin quotes a paper by Gervaise Makham from 1631, in which the silver coating in rabbits is described:

"You shall not, as in other cattell, looke to there shape, but to their richnesse, onely elect your buckes, the largest and goodliest conies you can get; and for the richnesse of the skin, that is accounted the richest which hath the equallest mixture of blacke and white haire together, the blacke rather shadowing the white, the furre should be thicke, deepe, smooth, and shining; ... the are of body much fatter and larger, and, when another skin is worth two ore three pence, the are worth two shilling. "


One should not look at the shape, as with other cattle, but at its value; one should only choose the best bucks and best rabbits one can get, and for the value of their fur the most valuable are considered to be the even mixture of black and have whiter hair, shading the black over the white, the skins are said to be thick, deep, smooth, and shiny .... these have a much fatter and larger body, and if another coat is worth two or three pennies, these are them worth two shillings. "

Darwin himself writes:

"But it is first necessary briefly to describe two other breeds: silver-grays or silver sprigs generally have black heads and legs, and their fine gray fur is interspersed with numerous black and white long hairs. They breed perfectly true, and have long been kept in warrens. When they escape and cross with common rabbits, the product, as I hear from Mr. Wyrley Birch, of Wretham Hall, is not a mixture of the two colors, but about half take the after one parent, and the other half after the other parent. Secondly, chinchillas or tame silver-grays (I will use the former name) have short paler, mouse or slate-colored fur, interspersed with long blackish, slate-colored, and white hairs. These rabbits breed perfectly true. "


"But first it is necessary to briefly describe two other races: silver-gray or silver-jewelry (?) Generally have black heads and legs, and their fine gray fur is interspersed with numerous black and white long hairs. They inherit pure and have long been kept in pens. If they escape and interbreed with common rabbits, I heard from Mr Wyrley Birch of Wretham Hall that the product is not a mixture of the two colors, but about half come after one parent and the other Half after the other parent. Second, the chinchilla or tame silver gray (I use the first name) have pale, mouse or slate gray fur, interspersed with long, blackish, slate gray and white hair. These rabbits inherit absolutely pure. "

Apparently the name Chinchilla was at this time not for the race that is now referred to , but used for the silver rabbit.

Darwin also describes how the young animals are colored:

"... whilst silver-geys are born black and afterwards become sprinkled with white" (.... whereas silver-gray geys are born black and are then sprinkled with white ").

Silver rabbits had also been known in France for a long time, Wischer writes that the French silver (see Helle Großsilber) can be traced back to the beginning of the 18th century. According to information that he received from a school principal named Doussot, the silver rabbits "are first mentioned in an agricultural document in 1730 (identical to the description by Deussett mentioned by Joppich ??), then in 1765 in the Encyclopedia of Sciences and in 1809 in an in-depth study of them Rabbit-referential treatise of Abbot François Rozier mentioned. "

Wischer also cites Bonington Mowbray (Franke names the author John Lawrence) who wrote in 1823 that silver rabbits imported from France " displaced almost all rabbits bred in the Lincolnshire countryside " and discusses the possibility that the small silver rabbits descended from these imports. Sandford mentions that the silver rabbit appeared among wild and cage rabbits in Lincolnshire around 1860 and were known as "Lincolnshire Sprigs, Millers, or Lincolnshire Silver Grays".

Silver rabbits came to Germany from France (Champagne silver) as well as from Great Britain (small silver).

Silver breeds recognized in Germany

In Germany (apart from the Meißner rams and the silver colored dwarfs ) three silver races are recognized: light large silver, German large silver and small silver.

Large light silver

Young Heller large silver Light large silver
Four-week-old young animal with the onset of silvering
Fully grown light silver

The Helle Großsilber is a medium-sized breed (4.5–5.5 kg) with a dark blue undercolour and a silver (bluish-white) overcolour. Black hairs are evenly distributed in the body color. The young animals are colored blue-black before the change in color. The breed originates from France , where it was bred in Champagne . The Helle Großsilber was introduced to Germany in 1911 by Nestler ( Dresden ) under the name Champagne-Silber, which a short time later was changed to French Giant Silver Rabbits, which was an unfortunate choice of name given the fact that it was a medium-sized breed. Joppich describes that the animals originally introduced had a darker color of the extremities (ears, masks, dark circles, legs and flowers) (compare also Darwin's description of the silver rabbit). Until 1942, when the name was changed to Helle Großsilber , the breed, for which the breeding goal of uniform silvering was soon achieved, was known as French silver . The light large silver thus shares the fate of the Japanese rabbit , both races should obviously lose the connection to the respective war opponent. The uniform silver coating aimed at in Germany evidently deviated so much from the breeding goals of other countries that in the evaluation regulations for pedigree rabbits in socialist countries a French silver was listed next to the large light silver. In this breed, the shorter hairy parts of the body (snout, dark circles, ears, legs and flower) were required as a somewhat darker mark. Today's European standard knows the light large silver as large silver, light, in addition, the champagne silver exists in a Swiss and a French cultivation direction.

German large silver

The German Großsilber is also a medium-sized rabbit breed, with a weight of 4.25 to 5.25 kg it is slightly lighter than the Helle Großsilber. The uniform silvering is caused by white-tipped guard hairs. Both light, medium and dark silvering are permitted. This breed was developed (originally in black color) by G. Stein and other breeders in Detmold by crossing black small silver and "various heavier breeds" (wiper) as "Germania silver". With the death of Stein, writes Joppich, the fate of Germania silver was sealed. Parallel to the Detmold efforts, Friedrich Nagel bred a large breed of (blue) silver rabbits in Neudietendorf from small silver and probably blue Viennese , which he called "blue large silver". In the beginning there were also many crosses between the German large silver and the French silver, until a pure breed and separation of the races took place. Today the Germans are allowed to use large silver in the following colors: black-silver, havanna-silver, yellow-silver, blue-silver and gray-brown-silver.

In other countries, no distinction is made between light large silver and German large silver, the light animals are there, as with small silver, as a color.

Small silver

The small silver is, as the name suggests, a small breed of rabbits weighing 2.5 to 3.25 kg. It comes from England, so it probably goes back to the Lincolnshire rabbits mentioned by Darwin and Sandford. It was imported into Germany around 1880 . There is little information in the literature about the further development of the breed in Germany. The small silver rabbit is recognized in Germany today in the following colors: light-silver, black-silver, havanna-silver, yellow-silver, blue-silver and gray-brown-silver.

Champagne silver rabbit

The champagne silver rabbits are particularly common in Switzerland. This breed has been recognized in the Swiss standard since 1895. They arose from giant and Garenne rabbits. The champagne silver rabbits are valued in many places for their meat, as they put on very little fat and can weigh 3.5–4 kg in just 3.5 months. Their appearance is almost the same as that of the light large silver. The only difference is that they weigh about 4.5–5.2 kg and have a few nuanced black spots on the muzzle, the edges of the ears, the feet and the ring around the eyes. Her name in French is argenté de Champagne . They owe their name because they come from Champagne in France. The first silver rabbits were also bred in Champagne, where they were eventually spread all over the world.

Similar races

The silvering of the fur also shows the Meissen ram, which is placed next to the ram rabbit due to the typical position of the ears and head shape . Silver-colored hues are also recognized by the color dwarfs .


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