Updated: Feb 26
Very little in known about how Otter genetics were crossed into the English Angora breed. But somewhere along the way, someone decided that they wanted to introduce the "at" gene into the genetic pool of English Angoras. As the line was brought back to purity, the Otter gene was carried with it until, one day, a baby Black Otter English Angora was born right here in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 3R's Peppercorn. The first known, pure Otter English Angora. I purchased this rare gem and added her highness to my breeding program in hopes to study otter genetics, improve her line to create show quality, Otter English Angoras and to hopefully see these beautiful rabbits on the show table one day.
In August of 2019 I was able to produce the first Fox (A.K.A Tortoiseshell Otter.) A few months later in February of 2020, I was able to produce the first Blue Otter. As of December 2021 I was able to produce my very first Lilac Otter EA and as of February 19th, 2021 I was able to produce the world's first Broken Otter English Angoras in both Black & Blue. I am currently working on additional Otter colors and will update this blog as I achieve the milestones I have set for myself.
Top : OSR's Renegade, Lilac Otter English Angora Buck
Bottom : The world's first Broken Otter English Angoras. Born right here in our rabbitry!
Genetics, Proliferating &
The Ladder Analogy
Let's face it; Genetics are hard. I am going to cover this at the most beginner level that I know how. There are 5 important locus that make up a rabbit's genotype. A, B, C, D, and E, in that order. We will only be looking at A and E to learn a simple overview of Otter genetics.
We will cover the A locus first.
Think of a ladder with three rungs. The top rung has a capital "A", the middle rung has an "at", and the bottom rung has a lowercase "a".
At the very top rung is capital "A", the most dominant trait that can be found in the A locus. If your rabbit's genotype contains the capital "A", that means your rabbit is an Agouti rabbit. The most primitive color found on animals. "A" will never be hidden. If it is there it will show itself. Examples of an Agouti rabbit's genotype : AA or Aat or Aa. The first letter being the color of your rabbit and the second letter(s) being the other color that your rabbit could carry. To find out the second letter of your rabbit's genotype you must breed them and assess kit colors. The Otter color is so new to English Angoras that the likelihood of your Agouti rabbit carrying "at" is miniscule unless there is an Otter parent or grandparent on the pedigree.
The middle rung is "at" which is Otter. An Otter rabbit will never carry "A" but can carry "a".
Examples of an Otter rabbit's genotype: atat or ata. Most Otter English Angoras will be "ata" meaning they will be Otter showing and Self carrying. I am currently working towards "atat" in my barn which would mean that I would have an Otter rabbit who only ever sired or birthed Otter babies when bred to another Otter or Self rabbit. If your Otter rabbit ever produces a Self kit when bred to another Otter or Self rabbit then your Otter is most definitely "ata".
The last rung on the ladder is "a". Lowercase "a" is Self. A Self rabbit is one color all over. Black, blue, chocolate or lilac are all examples of Self colors. Self or "a" is recessive to both Agouti and Otter, meaning if you have a Self rabbit it can only ever have Self babies *UNLESS* you pair that Self rabbit with a more dominant colored rabbit, i.e. Agouti or Otter. A Self rabbit will never carry "A" or "at". Self rabbits will always have a genotype of "aa".
Once you understand the ladder analogy we can move on! Read it a few times if you need to to help it stick.
I am going to glaze over the E locus to help you understand Fox. A Fox rabbit is "at" at the A locus and "e" at the E locus. Lowercase "e" is Tortoiseshell, a gene that doesn't allow the color of the rabbit to reach the end of the hair shaft, giving the rabbit an orange look. What does that mean? It means you have a "Torted" Otter. A rabbit that is genetically an Otter but has a non-extension gene. I give an example in the first picture below of the difference between a Black Fox and a Black Tortoiseshell. The Fox is genetically an Otter Rabbit, while the Tortoiseshell is genetically a Black Self rabbit. But because of the non-extension gene, "e", they both appear orange in color, turning the Otter to a Fox and The Self Black to Tortoiseshell.
You may be wondering what the best course of action is to proliferate Otter genetics in your own barn. This is my suggested course of action but is not by any means the only way to do things. I would suggest finding an Otter or Fox English Angora to start your program with. If you do not have a breeding pair of Otter English Angoras then start by breeding your Otter to a Self rabbit. If you complete a simple Punnett square then it will tell you that you are likely to have a litter containing half Otter showing kits and half Self kits. That is a fantastic start to your Otter breeding program! Keep the first Otters you produce and continue working to improve upon the previous generation. Educate yourself on the benefits of "Line Breeding" and don't be afraid to switch things up or try new things. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a farm girl's bunny palace.