Silvering in rats refers to the white guard hairs that all rats have to some degree, though it’s most noticable in the darker varieties and especially the self rats. For exhibiting in most classes this is a fault and bred away from, but it is possible to select for silvering until it is the main attraction.

Truly silvered rats glisten, with the white hairs giving the impression that the rat is sparkling in the light. The silvering should be over the entire body, head, shoulders, and stomach – though it’s not unusual to see silvering only down the back, with minimal white on the rest of the rat.

Silver rats can be bred in any colour, but only certain types are accepted for exhibition. The standard below is from 2010 and allows all varieties, but as from 2011 they can be shown only in black, British blue, chocolate, and mink but agouti based rats can also be silvered, and even pale varieties. In pale rats it can be difficult to see the silvering, and as there’s less contrast you don’t get the intense sparkling effect that you see on darker rats, so they’re not something that’s particularly bred for. Russian varieties can also be silvered, but they are not exhibited as such because it can be difficult to distinguish the silvered effect properly on the heathered background.

The naming can be quite confusing. This variety is shown in the “silver” class in the NFRS, but generally people refer to a rat showing silver guard hairs as “silvered”. The colours are referred to as “silver black”, “silver mink”, etc, though the silver black was historically referred to as the silver grey. Confusing!

Genetics: Although there has been a silvering gene described, it’s not thought this exists in the fancy – silver rats are generally the same as the non-silver versions of their colour, but selectively bred for the silvering effect.

NFRS standard: To be of a recognised coat colour, the coat containing equal numbers of silver and non-silver guard hairs. Each silver hair to have as much of its length white as possible. A coloured tip to be allowed. Silvering to give an overall sparkling appearance. It should not be possible to confuse a Silver with a Pearl or a Self. Foot colour to match top. Belly colour on silvered agoutis or cinnamons to be adjusted as per agouti and cinnamon standards. Belly colour on other silvered varieties to match top.