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The Fun Mouse: Varieties/Gentics: Tri Color Mice


Tri Color


Tri color is essentially made of 3 parts; splashed (gene unknown), spotting (such as; piebald s/s, variegated W/w, banded Wbd/*, belted bt/bt, etc), and c-dilutes (such as; extreme dilution ce, himalayan ch, chinchilla cch, etc). Herein I will go into detail about how these 3 things make up a tri color mouse and why each part is essential. While tri's can come in other colors, I will only discuss black tri's which are visually black, brown, and white. You can click any picture on this page to see it larger.


The Splashed gene is mysterious. No one in mouse communities knows exactly what it is as far as the chromosome, symbol, etc. SplashedHowever there are some speculations. Rumor has it that the "splashed" gene is transgenic and that they were originally taken from a lab to be used for personal breeding stock. I do not know how accurate these rumors are, however. Herein, I will be referring to this gene as the "splashed" gene, for lack of a better term. Splashed is not to be confused with variegated. Splashed is color on color where variegated is a spotting pattern; white spots on color. The splashed gene is dominant and only has an affect when c-dilutes (in either homozygous or heterozygous forms, not including full color C) are present. The splashed gene disables c-dilutes in patches. Where ever the splashes are, the coat color will remain unaffected by any c-dilutes present, leaving the mouse black in those areas. This is what allows a tri to have black patches and c-diluted patches.



You can use any type of spotting to make tri's (such as; piebald s/s, variegated W/w, banded Wbd/*, belted bt/bt, etc). The spotting pattern of a tri will directly reflect that of the spotting gene you choose to use. Spots tend to pool the splashes together, making them into clumps of markings rather than splashes. VariegatedThe rounder and more define (clean edged) the spotting pattern is, the more define the tri color will likely be. A tri that has many round patches will generally have the best "calico" look. Because of this, using piebald s/s generally makes the best "calico" looking tri colored mice because of the nature of the spotting pattern. However, all spotting patterns can make Banded lovely looking tri color mice, just different in appearance.

Variegated W/w mice are bred not to have solid or clean markings. As stated before, this will greatly affect your tri pattern, making the splashes remain more splashed rather than clumping together for a "calico" look. Variegated tri's are lovely if you adore the splashed look. Adding variegated to splashed will Beltedgive the splashes better color making them more brown and black in appearance, rather than the swirly gray you get without having any spotting gene with splashed.

Banded Wbd and belted bt/bt are bred for stripes, not spots. When using these kinds of spotting genes, you will likely get brown colored mottling in the black markings, yet you are not as likely to get round spots unless your mouse is piebald along with banded or belted.


Another major roll in tri colors are c-dilutes, such as; extreme dilution ce, himalayan ch, chinchilla cch, and albino c. You can use almost any of those c-dilutes to make tri's. However, you can not use full color C as this will not permit splashed to show since splashed only has an affect on c-*dilutes*. The visual "brown" markings on a tri color are the c-diluted areas. The c-dilutes you use will directly reflect the color of the diluted ("brown" looking) markings on a tri color. c-dilutes are a double edged sward. Some dilute black to white, some dilute black to brown, while others dilute black to only slightly off black. Depending on the c-dilutes you use, they can make it difficult to distinguish the dilute markings from the other markings. For instance, if you use albino c/c, you will not see a difference between the c-dilute markings and the white spots because the c-diluted markings will be diluted to white. In turn, the c-diluted areas will blend into the spots. On the other end, if you use chinchilla cch/cch it can be hard, if not impossible, to distinguish the c-dilute markings from the black markings because chinchilla doesn't have much of an affect on black. You will need to pick a good balance of c-dilutes to give you your desired brown marking color.

Below are examples of different c-dilutes you can use to make tri color mice. These pictures don't cover all possibilities, but they should help you decipher what type of roll c-dilutes make and what they look like.
*Note that heterozygous forms of c-dilutes result in varying shades. This will account for the slight differences in colors between the comparison pictures below. Different lighting also plays a roll in the slight difference in shades (some pictures are a bit over exposed, making them slightly lighter).

Color Point Beige
Color Point Beige Tri
Coffee Tri
Mock Chocolate
Mock Chocolate Tri


Spotted tans are not tri color mice. It is true that spotted tans have 3 visual colors, yet they are not considered tri color.

The brown color in visual Black, Brown, and White tricolors has nothing to do with brown (aka chocolate) b/b. If a tri color is chocolate b/b, then it is a chocolate tri. An actual chocolate tri has no black markings, but rather 2 shades of brown markings with white spots.

Splashed mice are NOT tortoiseshell. Tortoiseshell is a gene all its own (Moto), and is completely unrelated to tri colors.

Splashed and/or tri color mice are NOT Harlequin. As with tortoiseshell, Harlequin is a gene all its own (Hq) and has absolutely nothing to do with tri color.

It is extremely unlikely that the "splashed gene" is on the c-locus (albino locus). Tri colors can be homozygous on the c-locus, such as siamese ch/ch. This has been proven my many breeders. Because of this, we know that it is impossible for the splashed allele to also reside on the c-locus... there's no room for another allele. A mouse can only have 2 alleles on a locus (while freaks of nature happen, it is incredibly unlikely, I would even go as far as to say it's impossible, that this is the case here as it is far too common). If the splashed gene was on the c-locus, homozygous c-diluted tri's would not be possible. Just because a gene has an effect on another, doesn't mean that it's connected to that locus or even on the same chromosome.

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