New Genes: The Black and Blue Roborovski

I’m so proud to have imported agouti pied and possibly blue agouti pied roborovski from Holland and Germany via Houten towards the end of last year. As soon as possible I shared one of these hamsters with Vectis Hamstery for the purposes of exploring the new colours black and blue. Excited because, if it’s the same blue as with other species, you cannot have that without black (blue colour is usually dilute + black).

I’m even more proud to have bred black pieds out of two of these robos. Something that was possible thanks to Tebbe Bonder of Bonder Exotics and Daniella Ringling or Piccoli Amici for letting me import these and thanks to Vectis Hamstery for getting on board with breeding them. I’ve handled breeding new colours by myself and it’s no fun!

So far it looks to be behaving as expected but with new genes it’s important to keep an open mind. I’ve bred mine to make more of the genes available to us. The plan is for one of us to breed unpatterned agouti’s carrying the genes. These agouti hamsters will, hopefully, produce black, or blue (or both) and this will prove it’s recessive. If both parents do not show the colour (the phenotype) but produce it in their offspring then the gene cannot be dominant.

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The Carab litter born here, with mum S’krivva

Unpatterned blue agouti hamsters will suggest it’s a dilute gene and we will also like to see what a self colour looks like without a pattern as no one knows for sure what markings a self roborovski would have. Close examination of the fur would be needed to ensure it’s the same colour to the roots. If it isn’t it will raise more questions that can be answered with more sensible breeding.

Once recognised by the standards committee, then further breeding can be done with other varieties. What does a husky black look like? A husky blue? A dilute husky? But it’s important to take things a step at a time and only use the wild colour (agouti) to prove your case. You can’t have a black agouti, for example. If you don’t produce a blue agouti (the expected phenotype for the dilute gene), it suggests the blue is something else. Like a gene that is only a modifier that affects black.

In any case, it’s very pretty. I’ve been in total love with roborovski since I first started breeding in 2013 and, indeed, they were my very first litter of hamsters. I’m extremely excited to be working with this and it seems far more robust than the blue I have been working with in Syrians. Health can be improved but when the health is good to start with, it makes any project like this much better to work with.

We’re not jumping to many conclusions with this. We’ve only produced a couple of litters so far and there’s a long way to go yet. I’m enjoying the journey though!

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The Carab litter the day they were split up. Two brothers and one sister. One agouti pied and two black pieds.

Photo credits:

All mine! Please do share but do credit me if you do.

0 thoughts on “New Genes: The Black and Blue Roborovski

  1. Hi! I would like to know how this new gene came about? I’m guessing it would be a mix of the platinum gene and pied? I’m really interested in this.

    1. Hi, the UK Standards committee does not recognise platinum. In fact, I’m not sure anyone here has seen it in roborovski.
      I’m any case my thought would be no. Black in robo would appear to be just the same as black in any other species. Melanistic genes occur in a wide variety of rodents, so I would leap to that conclusion first although it has to be proven by breeding.

      Platinum in Campbells dilutes a coat colour and does not produce black. If we also have blue in robos (we are currently trying to breed it out of the dilute agouti) again I would initially assume it was simply like blue in other rodents. A dilute gene affecting only black pigment.

      It all remains to be seen! The first job is to breed away from the pied so we can see what this colour looks like without the pattern.

  2. Hello, I got so interested with this new color of Robo’s , I know that for you to have the blue color you should have the black color genes, blue is a dilute of black, although I have seen some picture of the black robo. some in the US called them Umbrous. although there is a big difference on the black color compared to the umbrous which only refers to the black tip of the fur covering the original color.

    Anyways I am interested having these new colors as an additional color to what I currently have.

    1. Hi there,

      Yes, Umbrous is usually the ends of the fur but it also normally dominant whereas this is definitely recessive. I can’t speak for whether the US genes are recessive or not.
      Normally blue and black do go together but not always so it’s best to do the breeding and show it for certain.

    1. Hi,
      We have yet to see an agouti or self blue or a self black without a pattern here in the UK. There are about four or five us breeding this gene now so hopefully it won’t be long.
      I know from breeders on the continent that a self blue without a pattern has no eyebrows but retains it’s white undercolour. However, I haven’t seen this here yet.

  3. I know this was posted a while ago, and I have a very limited knowledge of hamster genetics, but today when I was in a Petsmart store I saw a solid dark gray/almost black roborovski hamster. I had never seen anything like it before. I live in the United States and the closest thing I’ve ever seen to that was the coloration you showed in this article. Thank you for posting this, as I was scouring the internet to find anything that could explain her color.

    1. Hi,

      If I have pups available they will be listed on my available litters page. You are welcome to join my waiting list. . If you are abroad, then you are best looking for hamsters of this colour in your own country as, due to Brexit, I’m not sure when I’ll next be travelling to Europe or what the new restrictions/requirements might be and I don’t ship.

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