|The Silver Marten Rabbit
The Silver Marten breed was first started and raised in 1922 where a Standard Chinchilla rabbit and a black Tan rabbit were crossed. A black ‘sport’ was produced which resembled the black Silver Marten of today. It was found that breeding these ‘sports’ together that they bred true. This new breed was given their name in 1924.
Breeders began working on improving the cleanness of markings & ticking, enriching the color and working on changing the body type. The first ARBA working standard was developed in 1927. The original Silver Martens were a mid size rabbit with Does ranging between 8 ˝ - 10 lbs; the Bucks ranging between 7 – 8lbs. Today the weight range for the breed is 6 – 9 1/2lbs. The original working standard concentrated on the color and markings. That is why the Silver Marten of today has such clean, striking markings. In the 1970’s the working standard switched to developing an animal with more commercial type.
The Silver Marten of today is quickly becoming a breed considered as a meat type rabbit with its full loin, hindquarter and shoulders and great productivity. Litter sizes of six to eight are usual with some does having 10kits in a litter. The kits grow quickly with 4 -5lb fryers ready for butchering by 10-12wks of age.
The black Silver Marten was the first recognized color of the breed. Since the early twenty’s the development of several new varieties were added to the working standard; chocolate, blue and sable in that order.
The Silver Marten rabbit is genetically a Tan rabbit that carries a homozygous chinchilla gene atat B- c\chd-c\chd D- EE. This gene (c\chd inhibits the orange or red factor seen in the Tan rabbit. Modifier genes have been selected to create the distinct triangle, eye circles, nose marking, and ticking. Strict selection of stock is needed to maintain the markings called for in the breed standard.
There is a rabbit bred and shown in England that resembles the Silver Marten in North America. It is known as the Silver Fox. In North America the Silver Fox is distinctly a different breed with no resemblance to the European name sake.