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Tell me about Satin?

2773 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  moustress
I am loving the pictures I see of Satin mice. They are gorgeous, and I want a few of my own!

But... what causes Satin? Is it a genetic mutation? Will it appear, ever, out of two non-satin mice? What is the likelihood that a satin mouse will have satin offspring?

Any info you can give me at all, is appreciated. I'm eager to learn!
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I have been told that there are two different types of satin, and that the ones in Britain and Europe are different than the ones we have here in North America. I don't really believe that...but I thought I'd throw that down first.

Satin mousies are descended from mice exposed to hard radiation in experiments at the Oak Ridge Nuclear Facility in the late 50's. Some found a mousie that was a little shinier that others, and paired it, choose the shiniest, bred them together, etc. etc. etc. until the characteristic was stable, fixed, and predictably inheritable. there are intermediate types that still occasionally show up. I'm told that there are 'greasy' mousies whose fur looks kind of slick and glossy, and probably other types as well. I've seen the 'greasy' type; it's interesting but not terribly attractive.

Satin fur is composed of hollow hairs, similar to that of the polar bear, and that is what causes it to shine. Ticked meeces are expecially pretty, IMHO, because the colors kind of ripple and irridesce. I have always assumed that their fur gives them extra insulation, like the polar bears coats, because of the hollowness of the hairs, and I assume they would therefore be less tolerant of high temps.
Because of the nature of the cause of the mutation, there were other parts of the DNA affected, leaving satins with metabolic and physical problems that were recessive,. When paired these harmful recessives cause severe problems. Anemia, inability to digest foods, reduced size, reduced fertility, poor nervous system development, and gawdz knows what else.

When I started breeding satin mousies, I had a heartbreaking number babies that failed to grow beyond the size of a two to three week old baby. Many of them died by the fourth week. Observable characteristics include 'pin tail, which looks like a tiny tail with no width to it, with segments visible. The outer layer of the tail that has the texture appears to be missing. At the age of about 10 days, even before the eyes have opened, the babies may be seen scrambling like mad all over the cage, presumably trying to find something to satisfy their need for nutrition, to no avail. A few may survive to adulthood of a sort; small, hunched, prematurely aged, and just plain sad.

Beware of pet store satins, that may have been inbred enough for these problems to reappear. I spent the first couple of years trying to get healthy individuals. I finally found a satin buck in a feeder bin that looked just really big and strong and healthy, and I brought him home and over the next year I managed to eliminate the harmful double recessives by breeding Pudge (my feeder bin boy) to healthy looking satins I had, and to a couple of my bigger standard meeces. That was about six years ago, and I rarely see any signs of the harmful recessives. I routinely breed satin to standard to reduce the chances of those recessives doubling up again. I now can breed satin to satin with a very low chance of seeing sickly individuals.

Satin is a recessive itself, of course, so if you breed a homozygous standard (SS) to a satin (ss) you get all standard. If you breed two that carry the recessive, you will get an average of 25% satin, and so forth. You probably know enough about the basics of inheritance to finish that sequence...if I've forgotten anything feel free to ask.

Lots of breeders aren't aware that some of the more interesting types of meeces came out of those radiation experiments.
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UK satins don't have any health problems related to being satin - just the same ones that normal coated mice have.
Wow, thank you! That was very informative. :D Definitely opened up my eyes! :)
I've never had any issues with my satin mice, that my normal mice didn't have.
Yeah, I guess I was just 'lucky', eh?
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