Having a rabbit as an indoor pet may seem to many a strange fantasy. Not to talk about giant rabbit breeds: a complete heresy. Raising Dwarf rabbits or even meat rabbits can be understandable for them. Well, from my perspective: I think they are wrong. I have been raising a giant doe for a while now and I really enjoy it. Actually, I’m thinking about adopting another one to provide her with some good company. As a matter of fact, nothing differentiates dwarf, standard and giant bunnies if not their size: they have the same way of life, the same instinct, the same diet, and the same ability to get along well with family members and other pets.
Giant rabbit breeds are generally obtained through genetic selection. But these genetic adjustments generally only change aspects relative to physical attributes of the animals like size, fur quality and color, ears length …etc. It doesn’t alter whatsoever their character, their sociability nor their capacity to learn and to abide by the rules.
Think about it for a second. In the majority of cases, this “giant” bunny is after all no bigger than a number of dogs which size doesn’t seem to bother anybody.
Of course, the accommodation you will need to prepare must be adapted to your pet’s size. But this is no big deal. For example, the litter box has to be large enough for him to rest: A big cat box, a dog bed or even the big tray used by masons. What really matter is that the place is comfortable and easy for him to access.
As for nutrition, absolutely nothing is different apart from food quantity. A 2 times bigger bunny needs 2 times more food. The basics are: hay, vegetables, fruits and some standard rabbit food as a complement.
A giant rabbit, a standard sized rabbit and a dwarf rabbit can cohabitate peacefully. People tend to think that the bigger the rabbit is, the more dominant he will be. But this is never the case. In fact, sometimes it can be the opposite. Also, rabbits of different size can mate, but I don’t recommend you to go for such cross-breeding operation as it can turn out be somewhat dangerous for a tiny doe to give birth to bunnies with giant genes.
Long story short: if you are really into adopting one of these adorable giants, go for it. I personally had the same suspicions at first, but now I wish I had taken the step earlier. In the past, I had 2 cats and a dog. I also tried to raise a flock of chicks without success as they passed away soon after. My experience with my giant doe “Bess” was the most fulfilling of all, and my kids love her so much. As we are now looking to find her a soulmate, I did a bit of research to find a buck with which Bess can get along well with so we can welcome other cute adorable giants. (We intend to keep only one bunny as we cannot obviously handle 10 or maybe more of them).
I would like to thank FarmingStyle.com for the helping me throughout my research and for accepting to publish my humble article in which I summarize the description of three of the most interesting giant rabbit breeds I came through.
As Bess is a Flemish giant, let’s do her the honor of beginning with her cousins.
Flemish giant rabbit
Due to his size, professional breeders love it. The quantity and quality of meat he can produce are excellent. If fact, Flemish giants are one of the world’s largest rabbits. Some experts even say it is the biggest rabbit among all the giant rabbit breeds.
The breed is suitable even for individuals. At least for my personal experience, I highly recommend it.
This magnificent rabbit comes from Belgium in the Flanders region. His origins go back to the late years of the 17th century. His abundant meat was more than enough to feed large farmer families. This enormous bunny can reach a weight of 14 lbs. but his growth is slow. He is also less rigorous in terms of reproduction. Above all, he is an excellent pet with a life expectancy of 10 years. Unfortunately, the breed is now in danger of extinction as the number of Flemish giants decreases every year. For this reason, I’m seriously considering getting a Flemish giant buck to participate in its preservation. Also, cross-breeding seems to me an adventurous operation with maybe unexpected unpleasant results.
His character traits will absolutely seduce you: he is tender and loving. He also gets along perfectly well with kids. He hates loneliness and always jumps around to get attention. That is, like all other bunnies, he needs some moments of calm and rest during which you shouldn’t disturb him. Otherwise, he gets stressed. Our adorable giant may also be stressed if held in the arms for too long, so make sure your kids do not try to pick him up that much.
For his nutrition, a Flemish giant needs big quantities of varied and balanced food: it preferably includes alfalfa, barley, oats and hay. As I said earlier, Flemish giants appreciate living in a family provided they have an adequate and big enough place to rest in.
Farming Style have a comprehensive guide to the most popular rabbit breeds. You can find more details concerning the description of the Flemish giant rabbit in it.
Continental giant rabbit
In the picture above, you can see a black continental giant with three other Flemish giant. You may have noticed that the continental giants look very much like the Flemish giant. Well the reason is pretty simple: Continentals are in fact derived from Flemish.
Let’s go through some history first. In 1893, the first standards were put for Continental giants. Soon after, they and the Flemish giants were brought to the US in the objective of bringing enhancements in terms of size. This was the biggest interest of breeders around the world in a period that will be called later the “Rabbit boom”. When the tendency to look only for the amount of meat a rabbit can produce changed by time, then a variety of colors appeared as the giants became treated as show rabbits and as pets. Among the colors available now we find black, dark steel, light steel, and agouti.
Weighting on average 12 lbs (a 20 lbs. rabbit is not unusual), Continental giants are among the heaviest breeds. They are semi-arch rabbits, meaning that their back is arched from the shoulder to the tail. Continental giants are characterized by their heavy and bright coat and their copious, dense and fluffy undercoat. To maintain the fur’s quality, think about grooming it from time to time.
Of course, even with their perfect character, you should expect them to chew all kinds of cables and wires. Be sure to keep them out of your rabbit’s way. Like his ancestor, the Continental rabbit hates to be continuously picked up. That does not mean they are adorable and kind creatures.
Good quality hay and vegetables are musts. Keep in mind that as a result of their size, the quantity of food they need is quite important. You should expect a non-negligible quantity of wastes as well. Also, do not forget to take your big bunnies on a walk often, they love having the freedom to stretch their legs and enjoy the sun outdoors. Like all the rabbits, they need moments of calm to get their vivacity back. So you may need to get a big and comfortable enough bed similar to a dog crate for example.
Giant Chinchilla rabbit
The giant chinchilla is a breed of large rabbits with a unique fur color that looks like just that of a chinchilla. The breed originated in 1921 in the US as a result of the work of Mr. Edward Stahl who made the cross-breeding of white giant Flemish doe and an American chinchilla buck. His intention was to provide the fur industry with a beautiful good quality fur. He called the female newborn the “million dollar princess”.
Males weight between 12 and 15 lbs. while female are larger, weighting between 13 and 16 lbs. The giant bunny has a solid head with two erect ears, large shoulders and a big rounded body. His unique pelage color is due to the fact that there are many color strips in each hair and the closer it get to the skin, the hair tends to have a more blueish color.
As a pet, the giant chinchillas have an excellent reputation. They are easy to look after, docile and loving. To take good care of them, you must provide first a spacious and solid cage. Something around 3 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft. if course it depends on the size of your rabbit, but do not forget that they tend to grow fast and need to be able to stretch inside the enclosure. Another important point: as they eat in considerable quantities, you need to be their daily to clean the wastes. If you place the cage outside the house, make sure it is under a shelter to avoid sun and rain.
Their diet is nothing fancy, it generally consists of standard rabbit food and hay.
You can refer to the article on rabbit breeds for more details.