• Breeding For Color

    I would like to publicly state that there is NOTHING wrong with breeding for color. However, this doesn't mean that it is ok to look at ONLY the color of a hedgehog. Before you start breeding for color, you need to first be certain that your breeding animals are of good quality in all other aspects. A beautifully colored hedgehog who does not have an established pedigree that gives a reliable indicator of health and quality is not the proper way to breed for color. What I mean when I refer to breeding for color is deciding to breed two healthy quality hedgehogs with each other with the hopes of getting a certain color range.

    This is a VERY simplified version of color breeding, to be more accurate on your breeding, it is important to have an understanding of color genetics. Please research other sites with color information for more detailed genetic information.

    It is also important for me to point out that due to the color genetic makeup of hedgehogs it is almost impossible to breed for a single color without a very extensively single colored pedigree. Just because the male and female that you choose are the same color does not mean that all of the offspring will look the same. However, you can set breedings up to increase your chances of producing a certain range of colors. Be aware that a certain color can crop back up from as far back as 8 generations.

    The easiest thing to breed for is color group, which is the "foundation" that the colors are based on. In my article, the following groups will be used. Standard is anything from Cinnamon to Salt and Pepper, Apricot is anywhere from pale apricot to dark cinnacot, Albino is albino. Snowflake is ANY base color with approximately 50% pure white quills, White is ANY base color with approximately 95% pure white quills, Pinto is any color or pattern with pinto markings. To begin with, look at your color pedigree and simplify the colors listed. Solid colored hedgehogs would be simplified to standard, apricot, or albino, all snowflakes would be simplified to snowflake, etc. If you want to breed for apricot range for example, then choose bloodlines that have a high percentage of apricot range ancestors, especially in the first few generations, but you also need to look as far as 8 generations. If you want to breed for standard, do the same for standard range. Likewise for any of the other color groupings.

    While this doesn't guarantee that you will produce exactly and only that color in a litter, the higher the percentage of that color group in the pedigrees, the higher the chances are that you will produce that color or pattern.

    Breeding for a combination of color and pattern is tougher, but basically the same concept. The higher the percentage of those traits in the combined pedigree of both parents, the higher chance that you will get those colors. If 80% of the ancestors in the pedigree are standard snowflakes, then it will give you a very good chance of getting standard snowflake offspring.

    Breeding for a specific shade of color such as very dark standards, very light apricots, etc. is much tougher. This is because the color range is made up of the same genes, simply in different combinations. Everything from Brown to Dark Grey is based on the cinnamon and black genes in different combinations. From Champagne to Dark Cinnacot is based on the Apricot and Cinnamon genes. Apricot, Cinnamon, and Salt and Pepper are the homozygous colors (both visible genes are the same), which makes these a higher strength of that range. The easiest way to breed for a certain color or shade is to look at the nearest colors surrounding the desired one, and try to concentrate those as highly as possible in the pedigree. If you want to breed for Salt and peppers, then stack your pedigrees to have as many instances of Grey, Dark Grey, and Salt and Pepper as possible. if you want to breed for pure apricot, concentrate as highly as possible on pale apricots, apricots, and champagnes. This will not guarantee that you will get the desired color, but it will increase your chances.

    The exclusion to this specific color difficulty is albino. Albino is a separate gene that is a lot easier to reliably produce. If you have a high occurrence of albinos in your pedigrees, then albino will most likely pop up frequently.

    On the alternate end of this specific color breeding is breeding for a wide variety of colors. In order to produce what I refer to as a rainbow litter, I breed two individuals who represent a wide variety of colors in their bloodlines. I have several animals here who have representatives of basically every color group possible, and when I cross those individuals together, I have gotten litters showing everything from champagne to greys to snowflakes to pintos to albinos in a single batch. These are a lot harder to predict what you are likely to come up with, but the surprise factor can be a lot of fun.