Many things have been said about the Flemish giant rabbit. A question that lingers is whether Flemish rabbits are nocturnal. That’s a question that gets answered in this article. But before that, it’s essential to know what a Flemish giant rabbit is.
Flemish giants are one of over 40 rabbit breeds that have received recognition from the American Rabbit Breeders Association. It is a popular rabbit breed for those looking for a pet. However, the pet craze over this animal is only recent. That’s because the rabbits were initially raised for meat and fur.
Today, people treat them as pets and are likely to appear in the home as fury friends rather than an animal for slaughter. But, as wild rabbits, Flemish giants can inhabit brushy fields for cover, sand fields for effective burrowing, and forests sometimes.
Are Flemish Rabbits Nocturnal?
No, Flemish rabbits aren’t nocturnal. They fall among diurnal animals, active during the day and sleeping at night. Their behavior is to humans, dogs, and deer.
So, if you notice your pet bunny sitting passively during the day, don’t expect them to become active at night. Their daytime docility is a characteristic that has nothing to do with whether or not they remain active at night.
Rabbits are crepuscular, remaining active between dawn and dusk. Thus, wild rabbits are likely to come out of their caves and search for food during daylight. Rabbits sleep at night in their hideouts to avoid encountering prey animals.
Physical Description of the Flemish Giant Rabbit
The Flemish giant rabbit is unlike any other breed today. It has unique characteristics that led to it finding a domesticated rabbit. This section focuses on some of the special features of the Flemish giant.
One of the reasons the Flemish giants got domesticated is their large size. As a domesticated rabbit, it was an idea for producing lots of meat and fur. Its length can be as much as 2.5 feet and weigh up to 15lbs. no wonder it’s a popular domesticated breed.
2. This Fur
One of the reasons for breeding rabbits is to harvest their fur. The giant rabbit has a substantial amount of fur, keeping them wild in their native Belgium. Before it became a pet bunny primarily, the Flemish giant was reared for fur and meat. Its domesticators weren’t far off the mark.
3. Seven Colors
The gentle giant has seven different fur colors. It can be white, steel gray, fawn, sandy, or black. Even two gentle giants born the same day from the same parents will likely have very different colors. For example, one can be white and another black.
4. Large Eyes and Ears
They have large eyes and ears. So what would a bunny need large eyes and ears for? It turns out that as wild rabbits, they always need to be on the lookout. Therefore, their excellent hearing and eyesight help them to detect predators quickly.
However, the eyes are limited in the perception of depth and close-up vision. The giant Flemish is very good at picking up all types of movement over a long distance. That’s the configuration for the rabbit’s sight. So, the large eyes do not necessarily see more clearly.
5. Semi-Arched Body
The Flemish giant has a semi-arched body, which has made it gain the name: mandolin. The rabbit’s shape is similar to that of a mandolin in a resting position. Therefore, some people refer to it as the mandolin.
6. A Lagomorph
The giant Flemish rabbit is a lagomorph, meaning that its upper jaw has four incisors instead of two, as is the case with rodents.
Like their rodent cousins, the rabbit has its incisors growing non-stop throughout its life. Thus, it is necessary to keep chewing fibrous food to prevent the teeth from becoming oversized.
Typically, the male Flemish giant is more significant than its female counterpart. This is because males have broader heads and weigh a maximum of 22lbs.
Female Flemish giants come with a more prominent dewlap, the folded skin under the neck. The purpose of the dewlap is to keep the kittens warm. A typical female Flemish giant weighs up to 20lbs.
Flemish Giant Rabbit Diet
Flemish giants are strict herbivores, with plants as their food. Wild rabbits eat harsh roughage such as grass and hay. Due to that, the incisors seem to be ever-growing. Domestic rabbits tend to have a softer diet, including apples, vegetables (carrots, hay, leafy greens), and pelleted grains. This rabbit breed tends to eat more due to its colossal size.
Rabbits start eating as soon as they wake up and can keep doing so constantly as long as there’s food. However, their internal body mechanism doesn’t absorb all their nutrients through the intestinal wall.
That’s why they tend to eat their cecal or cecotropes. Remember, cecotropes are different from feces, which are round and dry. The act of a bunny eating cecotropes is called cecotrophy.
It is difficult for humans to notice cecotropes since the bunny takes it straight from the anus. Their appearance is that of small, dark, mushy blobs.
Besides drinking the mother’s milk, baby Flemish giants also eat the mother’s cecotrope. The Flemish giant rabbit can redigest its droppings up to 12 times to get the remaining nutrients.
How to Feed a Flemish Giant Rabbit
The Flemish giant seems to eat the most foods in the rabbit world. Therefore, their share of the food should be substantial. When feeding these rabbits, ensure their diet is composed of the following:
- 80% hay
- 10% leafy greens
- 5% healthy pellets
- 0.5% fruits
Instead of using water bottles, consider heavy ceramic water bowls. Since the Flemish giant drinks lots of water, it is essential to have it in plenty. One Flemish giant can drink one cup of water for every 4 pounds in weight. Thus, one fully grown Flemish giant can drink 1 liter of water daily on average.
Clean the water bowl daily to prevent contamination, which could compromise the rabbit’s health. Then, if there’s any remaining water, pour it out, clean the bowl, and replenish the water.
The pet bunny can eat as much hay as its body size daily. Therefore, they always need to have an unlimited supply of hay. Sourcing the hay from a local firm that produces it is the best method. Alternatively, you can buy hay online. An adult Flemish giant can eat at least five pounds of hay in a month.
Flemish giants below one year old can eat as many pellets as possible if they eat enough hay. Your vet can advise you about how many rabbit pellets you should feed an adult Flemish giant.
Fruits are only necessary as special treats in small quantities. You can check out the online resources offering advice on how much fruits and vegetables you can feed your pet bunny. Examples of valuable fruits and vegetables include parsley, spinach, carrot tops, beet greens, watercress, basil, pears, bananas, and mangos.
Flemish Giant Enclosure
Like other animals, rabbits require lots of space to make three consecutive hops non-stop. Since they often stand on their hind legs, the vertical space should be enough to support that. The floor space needs to keep the animal stretching in all directions.
The Flemish giant, therefore, requires a fairly large space. Unlike the smaller breed rabbits, it needs the most significant possible hutch.
When exposed to the hot summer heat, flemish giant rabbits can develop health issues. Therefore, you should avoid laying the hutch in direct sunlight.
Apart from the hutch, Flemish giants require plenty of space to exercise. So of necessity, is one or two extra-large runs. Then fence the garden section where you have placed the hutch. The fence can also keep off predators.
Alternatively, you can keep pet bunnies inside the house. If you choose to do that, be sure to rabbit-proof your living space. Here are some measures you can take:
- Hide or conceal baseboards
- Remove or hide all cables and cords
- Remove all house plants to avoid poisoning your bunny
- Designate the rabbit using a metal gate
- Protect furniture legs from bunny teeth
The ideal conditions for Flemish giant rabbits are up to 90°F. Therefore, it is essential to keep them in an environment with cool temperatures. Keeping them in a cage provides enough space than smaller bunnies.
It can also be necessary to enlarge the door to the cage to accommodate your giant bunny. Also, ensure you provide enough food to cater to the Flemish giant’s insatiable appetite.
Litter Box Set-Up
Did you know that the Flemish giant can be litter box trained? Even for the newbies, litter training a pet bunny is extremely easy. For that, you need a litter box and consistency in teaching your rabbit how to use it.
When looking for a litter box, consider the following:
- A cement-mixing tab
- Hay feeder/litter box combo
- A jumbo dog crate turned into a litter box
- Custom-built litter box
- An under-bed storage bin
- Cat furniture litter box
Due to its immense size, the Flemish giant requires a larger litter box. Ideally, the litter box for a 20-pound bunny should be 45 x 45 inches compared to that of a 4-pound bunny at 9 x 9 inches.
Flemish giants need enough space in the litter box for a 360-degree turn. So if the litter box allows for that, it is of the correct size.
You can fill the litter box using equine pine pellets, which Flemish giant rabbit breeders prefer. U.S. residents can get litter in large bags from Tractor Supply. It is also essential to supply enough hay in the litter box since rabbits keep eating no matter what.
Maintenance for Flemish Rabbits
It is not enough to feed a giant Flemish. The bunny requires lots of attention, time, and attention. Therefore, it is necessary to clean after the Flemish giant several times a day.
As part of the daily routine, you should clean the litter box daily. However, no matter how much you have litter boxed trained a bunny, it can still leave droppings all over the place.
When going on vacation, assign someone to clean after rabbit until you return. The assistant can ensure that the rabbit has enough food to keep its digestive system moving as needed.
Despite being docile, Flemish giants can be destructive when bored. They can chew baseboards, wires, and virtually anything within reach.
Flemish Rabbits Health Concerns
In the rabbit world, Flemish giants are the Great Danes. Apart from having a short lifespan, they can pass away without warning. That can be heartbreaking, given that the bunny can die suddenly before age two.
Even after doing everything right, the bunny can pass away without warning. That’s something that Flemish giant rabbit breeders have to grapple with.
Most rabbits can acquire GI Statis, which can shorten their lives. You can recognize and handle health issues in Flemish giants if you know your bunny so well that you can realize any change when they arise. Then you can have a vet treat the animal early enough.
Challenges of Owning a Flemish Rabbit
Even though perfect companion animals, Flemish giants are the most difficult pets to own. Compared to dogs and cats, Flemish giants are very sensitive. Make the mistake of spooking your bunny, and you could kill it.
1. Hard to Find
Flemish giants aren’t easy to find. It takes time and research to find one. Luckily, there are several Flemish giant rabbit breeders with websites. So, check out the websites for information on how you can find one of these pet rabbits.
Find out its parent’s average lifespan and medical history once you find a suitable breeder to provide a Flemish giant. On average, Flemish giants live around the same time as their parents.
2. No Specialized Vets
It can be challenging to find a vet who can confidently handle rabbits, including Flemish giants. Likewise, it can be challenging to own and maintain a rabbit without a vet.
If you find a vet in your city, you will likely have to wait in the queue for the vet to attend to you. The vet can charge you anything between $50 and $100 per visit.
There are very few pet shops that can accommodate a pet bunny’s needs. It gets even worse for Flemish giants, whose needs seem to multiply with size. You can need to exercise lots of creativity or go shopping online to cater to the needs of your Flemish giant.
Flemish giant rabbits can shed as much fur as small dogs. They, therefore, need as much attention or more than what you give to a dog.
5. Other Pets
While the Flemish giant can coexist with other pets, they view dogs as predators. The dogs have the drive to hunt bunnies. Therefore, it is advisable to keep your bunny away from dogs. On the other hand, the Flemish giant coexists well with cats.
The Bottom Line
When you decide to own a giant bunny, take time to visit several breeders to choose the best possible pet. Of course, it can be fun to have a giant bunny. But, even as you consider your needs, think about how well you can take care of your pet rabbits.
They might belong to the same breed, but every rabbit is an individual with unique characteristics. So, take time to prepare before bringing a Flemish giant home.