Basic Black-Eyed Selfs: Black, Chocolate, Blue, and (American) Dove/(English) Lilac, and Red
Your mouse’s color is caused by two basic pigments, one that can be either black or brown, and one that is yellowy-red; and the way a bunch of genes set how much of each one goes where. Imagine you have paints in black, brown, orangey-red, and white. With these four colors we can make all the mouse colors! Let’s start with a black mouse named Oreo. Seems like a lot of people have a mouse named Oreo! If I paint a picture of Oreo, I can use the black paint, and there he is:
Oreo has a friend named Hershey, who is dark brown, the color we call Chocolate. If I paint a picture of Hershey, I pick the brown paint for her. The gene for brown makes the “starter” color for the mouse brown instead of black.
Hershey’s friend Blueberry is the dark gray color we call Blue, but really, it’s mostly gray, like a slate blackboard. If you look at your paints, how would you get gray? Well, what the gene for blue does is inside each tiny hair, instead of spreading the color out evenly, it gets clumped into tiny dots. If you took the black paint and drew a picture of Blueberry using only tiny dots, then from far away she would look lighter than Oreo—she’d look dark gray.
Ashes is blueberry’s brother. Ashes is a lighter gray than Blueberry, also with black eyes. He’s the color the English call “Lilac” and the Americans call “Dove”. He’s basically a combination of Hershey and Blueberry, with both brown and blue colors. The blue means his color is all clumped into little dots inside the hair, too small to see. The brown means that the little dots are brown instead of black, so Ashes is grayer than Hershey and Browner than Blueberry.
Firefly the red mouse lives with Hershey and Blueberry. To paint a picture of Firefly, I pick the orangy paint.