The Flemish Giant rabbit is one of the largest and oldest breeds. They are also referred to as gentle giants due to their sweet and docile temperament. This large bunny has a semi arch, long and powerful body, with broad hindquarters. It weighs between 15 to 22 pounds and has dense and glossy fur.
So do Flemish giants make good pets? This article looks at this particular rabbit’s grooming routine, living habitat, handling, health, cost, and everything else worth knowing.
The Flemish rabbit originated from Ghent, Belgium dating back as early as the 16th century. This giant breed is an ancestor of the Belgian Hare and was initially kept for its fur and meat. However, the first official records for this particular breed were written in 1860.
This giant rabbit has a sweet and calm personality, hence making them great companions. Not only are they comfortable around people but Flemish also get along with other pets. It’s worth pointing out however that, when handled improperly, they can scratch or bite. Children should therefore be supervised when playing with these gentle giants. This particular breed can also be trained when it comes to doing tricks or using the litter box. It’s quite common for them to do as follows:
- They stand on their hind legs if they want to get our undivided attention.
- A nose nudge asks you for attention
- In the same manner as dogs, they may bring you their toys
- Then he sits next to you, as though he was asking for a stroke
These rabbits are loyal and tend to choose one human to be their favorite over the rest. If you are one of their favorites, you are fortunate, since they are quite lovable. Developing sociable traits requires handling them like kittens.
A Flemish Giant rabbit is around 6 times the normal size of an average rabbit. A fully grown adult can weigh between 15 to 22 pounds and can reach up to 30 inches long. A Flemish Giant has a semi-arch powerful body and erect ears that are 6 inches.
Its head is proportional to its body and its fur is a rollback, thick, and glossy. Flemish rabbits have seven distinctive coat colors namely: blue, black, white, sandy, fawn/yellowish, steel, and light grey. The first one is dark blue with bluish-gray eyes. The second color is black with brown eyes, then we have the gold-coated breed with a white undercarriage and brown eyes.
The light gray Flemish has colored brown eyes with black ticking tips, while those with sandy reddish coats have dark ticking and brownish eyes. The pure white breed comes with a white coat and pink eyes. Lastly, the steel gray breed has a charcoal grey coat, brown eyes, and lighter gray ticking.
Differentiating between a Male and female Flemish Giant
Males or bucks normally have broader heads and weigh more than females in general. However, one way to easily draw a distinction between the two is by checking their chin fur. Does or female Flemish Giants have dewlaps underneath their chins, which is used to keep their kittens warm.
Handling a Flemish Giant
Giant rabbits, in general, don’t like to be carried and the Flemish Giant is no exception. Although Flemish Giants are naturally calm animals, when they’re handled improperly, feel threatened, or held for too long, they can bite or kick.
It’s worth mentioning that Flemish Giants have delicate backbones that need support when you carry them. Start by placing both your hands under the rabbit’s lower mid-section to lift the rabbit. Slightly shift the hand holding the mid-section to support their bottom, while you place the Flemish’s head against your shoulder.
Flemish Giant grooming
Flemish Giants are easier to groom since they have fur that’s short, thick, and glossy. You only need to gently comb their coat once per week. On the other hand, if your bunny is molting, combing twice per week is recommended. It’s worth mentioning that all bunnies usually shed their fur/molt twice per year especially during spring and fall. Below is are different brushes that come in handy when grooming Flemish Giants.
Slicker brush- This brush is ideal when it comes to combing through a dense coat and also detangling fur.
Rubber brush-This particular brush is useful especially during molting due to its ability to remove fur that your bunny sheds.
Flea Comb-Its used to remove dirt, fleas, or unwanted flea eggs from your pet’s fur.
Soft Brush – The soft brush is helpful when it comes to the removal of any loose fur.
Another factor worth pointing out when it comes to Flemish Giants is that you shouldn’t bathe them. Flemish Giants and all rabbits in generally clean themselves. Just ensure that you trim their overgrown toenails or comb their fur occasionally. In general, grooming your Flemish Giant not only keeps them tidy but is also a form of a bonding experience for you and your pet.
Flemish Giant Feeding
Flemish Giants tend to consume a lot compared to an average-sized rabbit due to its large body. Always ensure that there is a constant supply of high-quality pellets, fresh hay, vegetables, and clean drinking water.
I usually recommend giving them fresh vegetables on a daily basis and fruits at least once per week. It’s worth pointing out that this giant rabbit doesn’t overfeed hence the reason why I recommend free-feeding them at least until they’re one year old. To maintain their weight and diet, it’s always advisable to feed a one-year-old bunny with ¼ cup of pellets per five-pound of their total weight.
When it comes to vegetables, you should feed a Flemish two cups per five pounds of its entire weight especially if they’re a year or older. On the other hand, feed them fruits in small quantities once or twice per week.
Flemish Giant General care and lifespan
The average lifespan of Flemish Giants is usually 5 to 8 years, depending on how well you take care of them. The male usually takes 18 months to mature while the female reaches maturity age after 12 months.
Take your bunny to an annual check-up at least once for bunnies under 5 years and twice for those 6 years and above. Also, ensure that your bunny has sufficient water, food, and toys to play with. Its cage should be spacious enough and the overall habitat should be rabbit-proof especially if it’s indoors to prevent them from injuring themselves.
Common health problems
One common health issue to look out for with Flemish Giant rabbit breeds is fur and ear mites. Below are the other health issues that are linked to these gentle giants.
- Sore Hocks – Sore Hocks or Pododermatitis is a health issue that leads to increased pressure on your Flemish feet. It can be caused by rough enclosure surfaces, long nails, poor hygiene, or damp bedding that causes infections.
- Heart problems – This disease is brought about by poor oxygen circulation or deprivation. Some of the common symptoms for this ailment include loss of appetite, tiredness, increased breathing, bloating, or sudden weight gain or loss.
- Osteoarthritis– This is a progressive painful disease that causes stiffness, inflammation, or pain in the joints as a result highly affecting your rabbit’s mobility.
- Rabbit Snuffles – The symptoms of this disease are a runny nose, eyes, and sneezing due to a bacterial infection in the nasal sinuses or tear ducts. In comparison to New Zealand Giants, Flemish Giants are more susceptible to snuffles.
- Obesity – The chances of giant rabbits being overweight are higher than those of regular-sized rabbits. There is a possibility that some owners do not understand how much exercise giant rabbits need to stay healthy. During the first six months of their lives, their size will increase rapidly. Once they reach maturity, their vulnerability to obesity increases, as well as other health issues associated with it. You should limit the treats they receive and provide them with a large pen for them to hop or play in.
- Heatstroke– Considering their furry bodies and large size, they are also predisposed to heatstroke. Ensure the temperature doesn’t get too warm and the humidity isn’t too high. Heatstroke signs include lethargy, excessive salivation, rapid breathing, burning in the ears, and convulsions.
Just like other rabbit breeds, there may be other health concerns with Flemish rabbits as well. They include malocclusion, respiratory diseases, and gastrointestinal problems, in addition to uterine cancer. It is therefore advisable to take your Flemish giant for an annual checkup.
Giant flemish cost
A Flemish Giant’s cost entirely depends on their age and overall health. For instance, a bunny without a pedigree costs between $20 and $50, while a breeding quality roughly costs $ 50 to $100.Lastly, a show-quality Flemish, however, will cost you between $75 to $300.Additionally, you’ll spend about $ 665 per year when it comes to maintaining a regular Flemish Giant and about $2700 for a show-quality one.
Flemish Giants breeding and Gestation period
When female Flemish Giants reach the age of ten to twelve months, or from fourteen to sixteen pounds, they are ready for their first litter. However, both males and females reach sexual maturity between four to five months.
However, if you want to prevent breeding, it’s usually advisable to separate the Doe from the Buck when they are 3 months old. Flemish Giants’ breeding time frame isn’t fixed and it usually depends on the owner. The gestation period is usually 28 to 31 days and they averagely produce 5 to 12 kitten litters. It is common for large litters to result in some kits not receiving enough milk. When a kit falls behind in its growth before weaning, it won’t reach its full potential.
Flemish Rabbit Enclosures
In order to house a giant rabbit, you must think outside the box as the average rabbit hutch is not an option for this breed. Below are some of the various ways you can house these gentle giants.
- A Converted Shed – You’ll need to make sure the shed is secure and spacious enough to house at least two giant rabbits. If possible Giant Flemish rabbits should have free access to the garden. You might as well attach a run to the shed.
- An Aviary – A large bird enclosure is ideal for housing giant rabbits. However, you must build a fence around the rabbit enclosure to prevent other predators from getting to the rabbits.
- Dog Cages – You can also house giant rabbits in larger dog cages with solid mat flooring and soft bedding since the wire can cause sore hocks.
- A secluded room – In most cases, rabbit-proofing your home is usually the best thing to do. Additionally, keep all your valuables out of reach or restrict your pets from accessing specific areas of the house.
Besides allowing plenty of room for rabbits to interact and play in, sheds, aviaries, dog cages, and secluded rooms also provide them with personal space-time when need be.
Flemish Giant bedding
Although Flemish Giants are easy to litter train since they are docile, choosing the right bedding is essential. For instance, a crystal or clumping litter is not the best choice for bedding since they often cause digestive problems when ingested.
Some of the best bedding for this gentle giant include paper-based pellets which are a great absorbent and odor remover. Alternatively, you can also use hardwood stove pellets which are affordable and also good at absorbing litter.
Cleaning up a Flemish Giant Habitat
Picking up after a rabbits’ poop or pee is the most unpleasant task for most owners. However, it’s also the most necessary. Always ensure that a Flemish Giants habitat is clean at all times.
This particular rabbit breed is likely to have much larger droppings when compared to your average rabbit. Although this is perfectly normal, it can be alarming for first-time rabbit owners. Regardless, always ensure that the litter box is clean and the enclosure is disinfected as often as possible.
Flemish Giant Rabbit mental stimulation
You need to provide this particular breed with entertainment if you intend to keep to one as a pet. First and foremost, always ensure that you have a large enclosure that comfortably enables your bunny to exhibit natural behavior such as feeding, playing, and grooming.
Additionally, you can provide them with a willow ball to play with or chew on. You can also involve them in activities that involve tunnels and boxes and entail climbing, hopping, crawling, or digging. Lastly, having another rabbit as a bonding partner or regularly interacting with your pet is another great way to entertain or bond with them.
Related questions people also ask
- How big can a Flemish Giant get?
Flemish Giant rabbits can grow as long as 30 inches and as heavy as 22 pounds for males and 20 pounds for females. However, according to the Guinness World Records, the longest officially recorded Flemish Giant rabbit to date measures 51 inches long.
- Where Can I buy a Flemish Rabbit?
The National Federation of Flemish Giant Rabbit Breeders is a great place to start if you want to purchase a Flemish Giant Rabbit. A list of approved breeders is available on the NFFGRB website. However, before you make a purchase, always inquire if they have good reviews and testimonials.
- What’s the time frame a Flemish Giant needs to reach full size?
Flemish Giants typically reach their maximum weight which is 14 pounds. They can reach their top weight as early as nine months to one year old or at the latest one and a half years. Until a rabbit is almost a year old, breeders and owners should wait to breed it.
- Are Giant Flemish rabbits the right pet for me?
In spite of their enormous size, Flemish Giants are docile and intelligent animals, that are wonderful companions and great family pets, however, they need plenty of care and attention. Before you adopt a Flemish Giant, take into consideration the following points:
- Does your house have a spare room large enough for a kennel, or does your backyard accommodate a 10 x 4 x 4-foot pen?
- Can you supply your rabbit with enough hay, pellets, and greens?
- How often do you groom your rabbit? Do you have the time?
- Owning a rabbit will come with veterinarian bills. Are you prepared for this?
- Are you able to give your bunny daily attention?
- Would a giant bunny fit into your family? Families with very young children might not be suitable to keep the Giant Flemish. This is because of the heavy handling or noise associated with children which can easily stress these animals.
- What’s the average Flemish Giant cage size?
I always recommend a cage that’s at least 24 inches high,48 inches wide, and 30 inches long. However, the larger the hutch, the better. Also, ensure that your cage has a large door that will enable your Flemish to easily come in and out of its enclosure.
- How high can Flemish Giants jump?
The Flemish Giant rabbit can jump as high as three feet. Its, therefore, recommended considering this when it comes to their habitat if you want to contain them or prevent them from escaping from their enclosure.
- Do Flemish Giants dig?
Just like other rabbits, Flemish Giants tend to dig more often. However, they tend to cause more damage due to their large size.
- Can Flemish Giants live indoors?
Yes, Flemish Giants make good indoor pets. Their friendly docile nature makes it easier to train them. It is easy to litter-train a Flemish Giant since they’re usually smart and pliable. Simply place a litter box in their favorite excreta spot. Also, you can train your Flemish how to interact with children and be comfortable around people in general.
Lastly, always ensure that your Flemish Giants have plenty of indoor space to move and play in. Alternatively, you can also buy a playpen if you want to restrict them from certain areas in the house.
The docile nature of Flemish Giants makes them seem like the perfect breed for most rabbit lovers, however, these gentle giants require a lot of care and commitment. We hope our article was informative enough when it comes to talking about the Flemish Giant rabbit breed.
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