The Pure Recessive Charcoal & Derivatives

Claire D

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The Charcoal Mutation.


Charcoal is a recessive mutation - it acts in the same way as (for instance) violet and in its pure state, when mated with a good quality standard the offspring will have pure white bellies. Any offspring with dull or dirty bellies indicates ebony inlfuence and the "charcoal" is not pure - it should, therefore, not be called "charcoal" at all.

As far as we are aware, there are no pure charcoals in the US and precious few (if any) in Europe. It would appear that true charcoal mutation chinchillas exist and are being carefully bred as such only in the UK. If a chinchilla is being sold as a charcoal then the pedigree is of vital importance and the chin cannot be proven to be a charcoal until mated with standards over a period of years and only producing clear, white bellied offspring. Even some of the older breeders' "charcoals" may be tainted with ebony because initially they were thought to be the same or at least a similar gene and were (inadvertantly) bred together to produce dark charcoals/dark ebonies with a good wrap. Much damage was done to the pure recessive charcoal mutation before both charcoal and ebony were clearly understood in their own right.

In the US, the terms "charcoal" and "ebony" and "pastel" and "tan" are used interchangeably - because the mutations have been mixed. In the UK we keep the terms separate because they are, indeed, separate mutations.

This is a pure recessive "Standard Charcoal Carrier" (looks exactly like a standard chinchilla but carriers one charcoal gene) - Gracie as a youngster - she went on to win main show awards which demonstrates how white her belly is (among other attributes) ...........


It is true that using poor quality standards can give an off-coloured belly (with any pairing, not just charcoal) but this is exceptionally rare now-a-days.

Charcoal + standard offspring should ALWAYS produce clear bellies and anything else should be treated as ebony influenced and removed from a charcoal breeding programme and should be sold as a light ebony etc.


A full (homozygous) charcoal chinchilla requires two charcoal genes (one from each parent) is a grey wrap (the grey extends all round the chinchilla, including the belly) and can be the "old style" lighter grey or the darker (almost black) colour phase. They are distinguishable from homozygous (extra dark ebony) in that they are always matt grey, not the "every hair shiny black" which the ebonies are supposed to possess. Currently, the darker phase charcoals seem to be in favour with some breeders, but there are others (myself included) who prefer the softer grey of the "old style" light grey charcoals. A few of us who are working with pure recessive charcoals are working to keep the two colour phases separate.

A pure charcoal's fur feels different and has been described as like cotton wool to the touch - standard/beige charcoal carriers also have a slightly different feel to their fur. The feel of the fur should not affect the quality - it is just a touch difference.

Here is an example of an old style, light phase charcoal (complete with tightly shut eyes because she did not like the flashy thing!)



And a dark phase charcoal:
 

Claire D

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Derivatives of Charcoal

These include pastel (light and dark phase), Charbrown and Charblack.


Pastel

This is produced by combining charcoal with beige and can be either light or dark phase.



Charbrown:

Charbrown is produced by combining brown velvet with charcoal or black velvet with pastel. The TOV (Touch of Velvet) should be clearly visible on the charbrown and is a beautiful colour.



Charblack:

Charblack is produced in the same way by combining charcoal and black velvet - again, the veiling should be clearly visible.




Personally I think the charcoal mutation and its derivatives are beautiful - the matt appearance and the soft, grey/beige wrap are quite stunning, especially when the grey/brown/beige is clear and blue. Charcoals and pastels have been pretty much absent from show benches for a number of years because the mutation as a whole had a tendency to breed small and could be tinged. The original Broucke charcoal was actually called the "Broucke Charcoal Borwn" (see my article here for more info on the Broucke charcoal) and the colour really did go out of fashion for many years.
Thankfully in the UK over the last few years there are a group of breeders who are determined to keep the mutation from disappearing and are breeding them carefully and improving their overall health and quality. There have been some charcoals exhibited at UK NCS chinchilla shows which can only be a good thing for the mutation as a whole and long may it continue! :D


There is more information about charcoals and charcoal derivatives on my website :)
 

DianeK

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Now where have I seen these before? :)



Did I tell you I have a little charcoal female Claire? ;)
 
W

weenieangel

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Hey Claire and Di - havent re-done my intro yet... but i think Chauvin the lad needs a pic on this thread...... if he will sit still enough :)
 
C

Chinniechantel

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Thank you for sharing, great information that is not easy to understand, but you did a great job!
 
R

Rickman

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Very interesting - I thought some of my Ebonies were producing charcoals, as they were dark with uniform lighter splotches, about a 50/50 mix - by your description, I guess they weren't. Had about 4-5, and one for 2 years, expecting he'd get lighter or darker, but he never changed. Real nice coloring though!
 

Megan

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Thank you for the post. I have always loved the Charcoal mutation (most likely because I love ebony, too). I've wanted to import "pure" charcoals for several years, but always been told its very unlikely to find anyone willing..as they are still quite "rare" in the UK in a pure/true form....

Your light Charcoal is stunning.
 

Claire D

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Thank you for all the kind comments - here are a couple more photos of the lighter charcoals.

Chippie is 12 now and seems to have retired himself which is a pity - I occasionally give him a new girly in the hope that he will produce me another kit or two ...............


Not bad for a 12 year old boy is he? :)


Calleigh here is the daughter of Chippie and was the first pure charcoals I had bred here - she won a 1st at one of the shows (a rarity in itself!).



Chauvin is a cheeky, very juvenile darker charcoal - he's a mischief and a completely hopeless breeding male - he's too busy playing with wooden toys to bother with girlies! LOL
I will have to see if I can get a decent photo of him later.
 
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Brea

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Charcoal and ebony always confuses me. How do you tell the difference between the two? They both wrap, and seem to be simiar in color.
 

Claire D

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Charcoal and ebony always confuses me. How do you tell the difference between the two? They both wrap, and seem to be simiar in color.
If you have experience of both you can often see the difference but it is generally the genetics which tell them apart although charcoal fur has a different texture when you touch it. :)
 

Megan

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Charcoal and ebony always confuses me. How do you tell the difference between the two? They both wrap, and seem to be simiar in color.
Brea, I am NO expert when it comes to Charcoals, all I know is from reading..but one of the biggest things I would think is when you breed it. Since a Charcoal is recessive, it would not show up if bred to a standard..meaning all kits out of the charcoal would be standard, with white bellies.

Breed an eb to a standard you'll get ebs, standards, or standards w/ dirty bellies.
 

Claire D

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Do you usually see the charcoals grow darker as they get older or do they generally stay the same shade from kit to adult?
Some do, yes - I will have to see if I can find the photos of twins who started off one light one dark - they are both pretty dark as adults.
Calleigh stayed the same gorgeous light charcoal throughout. :)
 
S

SunshineChins

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I had to show my daughter this thread.. her name is Caleigh only with one L. :D Your chins are gorgeous.. and what great info!
 

Siylvat

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I just wanted to say that this thread is great, lots of good information. I would love to see threads like this for other mutations.
 

DianeK

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Well I'm no photographer and I need a new camera but here you go Claire.

First is Shrimp, the smallest of the triplets born recently.




And this is Bramble, my little girly;




 
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