Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Meet Bill and Ted....

As Promised, Here are Bill and Ted. 

Ted is the darker of the two and is sulking on the shelf. Bill in the curious looking one on the floor. 

It's not easy to get them in the same picture at the same time.

This was taken when they first came home and were in Quarrentine - They have now moved upstairs and they have chunked out a bit - Bill is a right chunky lad now.

Ebony is basically a 'wrap around' colour, so they lack the white bellies found in most. Breeders try to breed the darkest that they can, with an all over 'every hair' shiny black being the aim colour wise. Ted is nearly there, he just has some lighter freckles.

The problem with the darker Chins is that the fur is not so good quality. Ted's fur is longish and does not stick up as much as Bill's. For this reason, Bill would be considered the better 'quality' of the two even though he is not nearly as dark as Ted (he looks darker in the fur than he does in photos).

Ebony is believed to be a cumulative gene, that is as the generations go on, the offspring are generally darker. 

This leaves breeders with a big problem.

If you breed two every hair black chinchillas together (or sometimes it is referred to as 'Homo Ebony' i.e. homozygous for the ebony gene). You will get very dark offspring, which is certaintly the more desired colour but the fur quality will usually suffer.

So the way most breeders will do it is to use top notch lighter animals and breed over many generations to try to get a good quality 'Homo' Ebony. It's a wasteful game, with a lot of animals being born that can't be used to breed if they are not darker (and they can't be bred with other colours if you are breeding for white bellies as it will cause a 'muddy' belly) and pet owners not wanting anything other than the darkest ones...

I would love to breed, but it's far too complicated.

I was never a fan of the colour in general, it got a bad name - and I admit, I'm as guilty as the next person of wanting a dark one (hence Ted) but I have to say, I have a big soft spot for Bill.

I hope my ramblings on Ebony Chinchillas haven't bored you too much.... I could talk Chinchillas all day happily. They are such BIG personalities in such tiny bodies. My Fiance often accuses them of winding him up on purpose...

You know what?

I actually believe they probably do......

It's a shame that they need such specialist care really, but I would be the first person to discourage ownership unless you are a 110% committed. 

On the bear front, I won the mohair - Just got to wait for the post. I think I may try mostly machine stitching for once as 100% hand sewing means it takes me ages to make a bear! 


  1. Can't wait to see your new bear :)

    I think learning about the breeding standards is interesting. I used to breed rats and there are so many undesirable traits its insane... but holy cow when you come across one that has just the right fur, in just the right color... well... you can just see how it's different and such.

    I never knew people bred Chins for white bellies... huh... learn something new every day!!! (or that darker ones had degraded fur quality)

  2. Hi Heather. Of course we are talking generally here, but show chinchillas are bred for and entirely judged upon their fur qualities. Here it is a throw back to their original purpose, that is they were bred for their fur to make things. If you ever get the oppertunity to stroke one, you must; you will understand straight away then.

    We are lucky in a way that fur farming is illegal in the uk; but in the USA and Europe they are still bred for fur. I can't hate it too much though as that is where most of the new colours start out.

    This system does mean that animals missing limbs, or ears, or tails can still win top prizes though.

    They breed for clarity, conformation, blueness and density. Clarity is the hardest to explain, it is to do with sharpness of colour. The conformation should be big and blocky - with top chinchillas often looking like furry bricks. Fur should have a blue tinge to it, no matter what the colour. Density means they should have tight, full fur that stands straight up - it should be strong not weak and lying down. In most colours a White belly is important and should be a bright White.

    I've been to shows and it's fascinating !

    I can only imagine that rats are just as complicated.