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What is an Astrex?

"Astrex" can refer either to the coat type, or an extinct UK breed by the same name. An astrex coat is dense and curly.

Are Astrex just a kind of Rex?

No! Astrex is it's own unique fur type, and is completely independent of rex. They are the "same thing" to roughly the same extent that angora and lionhead are the "same thing". Curls frequently appear in other breeds in the complete absence of a rex coat, and have been documented in everything from Beverens to Flemish Giants to Dutch to Lionheads. 

If an astrex coat were just a variation of a rex coat, breeding an astrex rabbit to a rex rabbit would result in 100% rex or astrex kits. However, test breedings have produced non-curly, non-rexed kits from these pairings.

The misconception that curl is just a variation of the rex gene comes from the fact that if a rabbit is curly, the curls are often easier to spot in a rexed coat, and many mini-rex do carry the genes for curl. This is correlation, not causation. Many holland lops are tricolor, but this doesn't mean that the harlequin gene is linked to dwarfism.

Is there an Astrex Gene?

Yes and no. Astrex coats are a polygenetic trait, which means that multiple genes have to be present in order to get the curl. Saying that there is an "Astrex Gene" is sort of like saying there's a "Lilac Tortoiseshell" gene. It's not one gene that creates the look, it's several--one to narrow the hair shaft's diameter, one to flatten the cross-section of the guard hair, one to create waves through the coat, etc. From what we currently understand, a good astrex coat is the result of at least three different genes, all of which appear to be recessive.

My kit's curl disappeared! Does this mean it's not an Astrex?

Not necessarily. It is not unusual for a curly-coated rabbit to have it's curls vanish, only to go through a second molt at 18-36 months and have the curls return.