(4/10. 'Journal of Horticulture' May 28, 1861 page 169.)
(FIGURE 5. HALF-LOP RABBIT. (Copied from E.S. Delamer's work.)
Certain characters are remarkably fluctuating, or are very feebly transmitted by domestic rabbits: thus, one breeder tells me that with the smaller kinds he has hardly ever raised a whole litter of the same colour: with the large lop-eared breeds "it is impossible," says a great judge (4/11. 'Journal of Horticulture' 1861 page 327. With respect to the ears see Delamer on 'Pigeons and Rabbits' 1854 page 141; also 'Poultry Chronicle' volume 2 page 499 and ditto for 1854 page 586.), "to breed true to colour, but by judicious crossing a great deal may be done towards it. The fancier should know how his does are bred, that is, the colour of their parents." Nevertheless, certain colours, as we shall presently see, are transmitted truly. The dewlap is not strictly inherited. Lop-eared rabbits, with their ears hanging down flat on each side of the face, do not transmit this character at all truly. Mr. Delamer remarks that, "with fancy rabbits, when both the parents are perfectly formed, have model ears, and are handsomely marked, their progeny do not invariably turn out the same." When one parent, or even both, are oar-laps, that is, have their ears sticking out at right angles, or when one parent or both are half-lops, that is, have only one ear dependent, there is nearly as good a chance of the progeny having both ears full-lop, as if both parents had been thus characterised. But I am informed, if both parents have upright ears, there is hardly a chance of a full-lop. In some half-lops the ear that hangs down is broader and longer than the upright ear (4/12. Delamer 'Pigeons and Rabbits' page 136. See also 'Journal of Horticulture' 1861 page 375.); so that we have the unusual case of a want of symmetry on the two sides. This difference in the position and size of the two ears probably indicates that the lopping results from the great length and weight of the ear, favoured no doubt by the weakness of the muscles consequent on disuse. Anderson (4/13. 'An Account of the different Kinds of Sheep in the Russian Dominions' 1794 page 39.) mentions a breed having only a single ear; and Professor Gervais another breed destitute of ears.
We come now to the Himalayan breed, which is sometimes called Chinese, Polish, or Russian. These pretty rabbits are white, or occasionally yellow, excepting their ears, nose, feet, and the upper side of the tail, which are all brownish-black; but as they have red eyes, they may be considered as albinoes. I have received several accounts of their breeding perfectly true. From their symmetrical marks, they were at first ranked as specifically distinct, and were provisionally named L. nigripes. (4/14. 'Proc. Zoolog. Soc.' June 23, 1857 page 159.) Some good observers thought that they could detect a difference in their habits, and stoutly maintained that they formed a new species. The origin of this breed is so curious, both in itself and as throwing some light on the complex laws of inheritance that it is worth giving in detail. But it is first necessary briefly to describe two other breeds: silver-greys or silver-sprigs generally have black heads and legs, and their fine grey fur is interspersed with numerous black and white long hairs. They breed perfectly true, and have long been kept in warrens. When they escape and cross with common rabbits, the product, as I hear from Mr. Wyrley Birch, of Wretham Hall, is not a mixture of the two colours, but about half take after the one parent, and the other half after the other parent. Secondly, chinchillas or tame silver-greys (I will use the former name) have short, paler, mouse or slate-coloured fur, interspersed with long, blackish, slate-coloured, and white hairs. (4/15. 'Journal of Horticulture' April 9, 1861 page 35.) These rabbits breed perfectly true. A writer stated in 1857 (4/16. 'Cottage Gardener' 1857 page 141.) that he had produced Himalayan rabbits in the following manner.