Coat Type :: Genetics: I/I :: Recessive
Harley is a coat type. It is a recessive gene (*a recessive gene is when a gene needs to copies, one from each parent to be expressed. It can be carried and not show). Represented by I/I
Description: Harley is a long-haired variety. They have long thin wispy fur with no undercoat. The coat can sometimes appear greasy or wet. The whiskers are noticeably different from birth as well, whiskers are semi curled or waved, often short/broken and sometimes appear singed. You can tell Harley from birth by looking at the whiskers.
Standard: It is not currently standardized by AFRMA. AFRMA states that it is unlikely to be standardized at this time.
History: We are very blessed that the history of Harley is well documented. The variety Harley was first discovered on September 1st 2002 from a pet shop by Odd Fellows Rattery (OFR). They named the rat Harley and that is how the variety was given its name! So far it has stuck! Harley was joined by others of the same coat in May of 2003, with her litter of babies and it was then known it could be passed on and with those babies, the variety was born so to speak!
There is also good information found on this site: HERE.
It is so neat thinking back that all of our beautiful Harley came from that first girl!
Though 2003 seems forever ago, it is still a fairly young variety and only pretty recently did it really begin to spread among many breeders. On top of that Harley is not the most popular variety to work with among breeders.
Health/Issues: Harley can have some issues. It depends greatly on the individual line. There are great lines out there with little to no issues, other lines are still being worked on and some lines are still really bad. The best thing to do is talk with the breeder you are adopting from and ask about any issues, how long they have been working with the gene and how many generations they are on with it.
One issue that does not affect pet owners, is that Harley (in some lines) may often have issues lactating, nursing, producing milk, and in worst cases have issues with nipples or mastitis. It is something to be cautious of as you really do not want to have an oops litter.
Harley babies can also be smaller and have more thin fragile body types.
Harley can also have skin issues, ranging from some mild irritation and flakes to major skin issues such as wounds, scabs, bald spots, This is believed to be a protein allergy or related to protein levels. Many breeders reported that the first Harleys required very low levels of protein to not have skin issues or serious skin issues.
These days most Harley are ok with normal/slightly lower protein levels. Again, it does depend on the line.
Harley coats can also not age well in some lines. There is a running joke that breeders only post photos of baby Harley, because babies are adorable and super fluffy but adults can look like hideous monsters. Coats can thin out a lot or even be patchy. I have had quite nice coats so far. I will sometimes get adults that you brush their fur in one direction and they look like a fluffy angel & you brush it in a different direction and they look like they woke up on the way wrong side of the bed lol
Some breeders are combing Harley with other coat types as it can help for an overall nicer coat.
The start of my lines:
I got my first Harley (and the Harley gene) in early 2016 from HTG's Zoo, a rattery located in Indiana.
I started with one little Mink Harley girl whom I named Esme (pictured above under the title).
Esme carried Dwarf & Burmese and gave me my Burmese line as well!
Esme was an amazing rat, very sweet, was not super outgoing but calm and a great mom and always helped raise other litters that were not hers as well. She lived a little over 2.5 years. She gave me two litters. My Harley and Burmese lines are still going strong from her.
Currently, my Harley line are:
Generally self/unmarked but sometimes Mismarked Irish
Silvermane - Silvermane is also a coat type and I find they work very well together, not only as a beautiful striking look but also it seems to help the coat a nicer quality.
As of July 2019, I had my 7th generation which that litter was outcrossed into my Black/RB/Blue line which was on Generation 5.
Health and Issues in my line:
Lactation- My first Harley Esme was unable to produce enough milk to properly feed her litters. She was an excellent doting mother but just couldn't and her babies needed to be fostered to other moms. Her non-Harley females in the line had no issues. The first few Harley females were able to nurse somewhat but not enough on their own. Then I had two sisters who were able to feed their babies on their own! But sadly after those two, I began to have issues again. They were able to nurse well at first but they would gradually not be able to produce.
I am still working on solving the issue and improve this in my line. I have outcrossed, and bred many standard coat moms. When breeding a Harley female I always have a foster mom available.
Size/Body Type- All of my Harley at first were on the smaller, petite and fragile type structure. I ended up separating it from my C Locus and crossing it into the Black/RB/Blue Silvermane because of this. The Harley are sometimes still slightly smaller but a much nicer healthier type, in my opinion. I have gotten some nice sized adults.
Health- My Harley line has not shown any health issues so far. No tumors, no heart issues, no respiratory issues. They have nice long lifespans.
Skin/coat- I have been blessed with average - very nice coats with little to no issues. I feed oxbow with a 14% protein level and that seems to work well. I have noticed during pregnancy hormonal changes, they can have some skin issues and if I raise protein it can cause issues. My females tend to have nicer coats. In old age around 2+ years they may get some thinning.
I feel diet plays an important role. I have also added Black Oil Sunflower seeds to their diet, which I think have helped. I have read that the seeds can help coats/skin of many animals and is sometimes used for dogs even. Some breeders have had luck with them as well. Obviously in moderation.
I have since crossed them with the Silvermane coat which I think is both beautiful and makes for a much nicer coat all around.
Temperament- My Harley line began very nice temperament wise. The first ones were slightly timid, not very outgoing but no aggression or serious issues. No hormonal aggression. My Silvermane line had some major temperament issues to begin with but had made major improvements and were squishy sweet hearts now. I am still seeing a bit of shy/not outgoing behavior but hope to improve that in a few more generations.