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Can Backyard Bunnies Change Their Colors?

By Tom Seest

Do Domestic Rabbits Change Color?

You may have wondered, “why do domestic rabbits change color?” You’ve probably noticed the winter coat or the fact that your rabbit is spending less time in the sun. This is a natural process for rabbits. The process is based on genetics, but there are also environmental factors that contribute to the process.

This photo was taken by Mikhail Nilov and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/food-people-woman-relaxation-6957438/.
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Do Backyard Bunnies Have Winter Coats?

The answer to the question, “Do domestic rabbits change color?” depends on the time of year and the amount of sunlight. While rabbits are most often white during the warmer seasons, their coats can change to a different color in the winter and spring. This process helps the animal blend in with its environment and escape predators. In their natural habitat, rabbits often change colors in response to the seasons, and this helps them survive for long periods of time.
In addition to white, grey, and black, the colors of domestic rabbits vary. Black rabbits can be spotted with white hair, and fox-patterned rabbits are solid black with a pale orange border. Blue rabbits can be solid or striped. A striped pattern may occur on the underside of the body. A solid blue rabbit may also have fawn guard hairs. Another variation is called an agouti. The tipped guard hairs of this coloration are black. Another variation is a black-and-white rabbit, while a cream color is white with a light tan border.
Domestic rabbits have the ability to change color and, in general, do so when the seasons change. However, their color changes are usually seasonal and influenced by biological cycles and hormonal changes. While rabbits naturally change colors to adapt to their environment, some rabbits may display color changes that are considered abnormal. These changes may indicate diseases that need veterinary attention.
The color of domestic rabbits can also depend on their diet. If they are not fed enough food or have parasites, they may develop dull fur and lack of grooming. Healthy rabbits may have shiny black coats in winter but a poorly-nourished rabbit will have a dull, charcoal grey coat in the winter. Poor health can also result in rabbits shedding their coat during the cold winter months.

This photo was taken by Mikhail Nilov and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/food-people-woman-festive-6957441/.
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Do Backyard Bunnies Have Genetics For Colors?

Domestic rabbits can be bred for a variety of colors. Their coat color is determined by genes that are located at specific points on their chromosomes. There are five basic loci for coloration: A, B, C, D, and E. These genes control the position and vibrancy of pigments. Using these genes, rabbits can be bred for any color.
The D gene is the dominant allele. This gene enables the dark brown pigment to fully express itself and the banding to show through naturally. A rabbit with this genotype will have the same coat color as a rabbit with a dominant homozygous genotype of BB. There are several other genes involved in coat color. Each one codes for a particular aspect of coat color, such as the extent of dark pigment or the amount of white spotting. The genes responsible for determining color in domestic rabbits are not fully understood, and there are several unknown alleles among the known genes.
One of the most common mutations in the E locus is called ‘e’, which affects black pigmentation. This gene is dominant only when there is a copy of itself in the parents. Normally, the e gene makes a coat with a black or brown undercolor. However, the effect is imperfect, as the darker pigments barely extend up the hair shaft and are replaced quickly by a different color. As a result, rabbits with the e gene will have a very shaded coat.
Another type of rabbit genetic mutation is ‘en. This gene changes coat color by determining whether the hair shaft extends to the end. If it does, the resulting coat color will be black tortoiseshell. If the hairs are shorter, they will have a shaded appearance.

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Do Environmental Factors Affect Backyard Bunny Color?

There are many factors that can influence the color of domestic rabbits. Some of these factors are genetic, while others are environmental. These environmental factors could include diet, environmental pollutants, and a range of other environmental factors. Here are some of these factors. Depending on the environment, domestic rabbits can become brown, black, or white.
The E gene controls the extent of dark pigment in the coat. It is made up of two alleles, one for normal pigment extension and one for no pigment extension. Homozygous e alleles will only produce yellow or red pigments on their fur, while homozygous e alleles will only produce black or brown pigments on their coats.
Some of the OCA haplotypes were introgressed into the domesticated rabbit gene pool by natural hybridization. In fact, the French population has a high OCA haplotype that was also introduced into the domesticated population. The evidence for these introductions indicates that OCA may have been a significant factor in domestication.
If your rabbit lives outdoors, you will have to manage the temperature of the environment carefully. Most domestic rabbits don’t live in rabbitries that have air conditioning. The temperature and sunlight exposure can affect their comfort. Fortunately, they can survive if you provide them with plenty of food and water.
Many rabbit owners notice color changes in their rabbit’s fur. In some cases, rabbits completely change color several times a year. These changes can indicate a number of different health issues or environmental factors. Some rabbits even turn yellow, indicating urine staining.

This photo was taken by Mikhail Nilov and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/food-wood-woman-relaxation-6957443/.
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Does Treatment of Mites Affect Color in Rabbits?

If your domestic rabbit has a mite infestation, treatment options can include chemical treatments or an oil treatment. In the first instance, it is important to quarantine the animal to prevent further infestation. After that, you can apply mineral oil, baby oil, olive oil, or canola oil to the affected area. It is important to note that you should not use motor oil for this treatment. The oil suffocates the mites, killing them over time.
In some cases, your rabbit may only show symptoms of a mite infestation, such as a buildup of dandruff or scaly skin. In severe cases, your rabbit may require antibiotics, but this treatment is not always necessary. It is important to diagnose the problem early, as mites can survive for up to 21 days. You should also thoroughly clean your rabbit’s enclosure and any areas it uses for exercise.
In the case of an ear mite infestation, you should move your rabbit to an isolated room. This will help prevent reinfection from its surroundings. During this time, you should change bedding and clean the litter box daily. The veterinarian may also ask you to make a follow-up appointment, although this is uncommon and most cases will clear up on their own.
Another effective way to treat a mite infestation is with a product containing selamectin. This insecticide is effective against both psoroptic and sarcoptic mites.

This photo was taken by Mikhail Nilov and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-in-white-apron-holding-white-plastic-spoon-6957444/.
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