Do Flemish giant rabbits like to be held? This is a question that many people have asked, and it is a valid one. After all, these are big rabbits, and they may not want to be held by humans if they don’t enjoy it.
An average Flemish giant rabbit weighs some fifteen pounds. However, these giant rabbits are known to grow up to exceed twenty pounds in body weight! That is a lot of weight to heave and move about with you. Add to that the reputation rabbits have as skittish and unpredictable animals, and you have a recipe for disaster when it comes to holding and carrying the rabbits.
This in-depth guide offers you all the lowdown you need to know about Flemish giant rabbits’ behavior, history, and care needs, including if you can hold them.
Is There Any Evidence Whether or Not Flemish Giant Rabbits Like to Be Held?
There is some evidence that Flemish giant rabbits like to be held by humans. For example, many people who have these rabbits say that they enjoy being petted and cuddled. In fact, some people even say that their rabbits will come up to them to ask for a hug! Additionally, there have been cases where Flemish giant rabbits have saved the lives of their owners by warning them about fires or other dangers. So it seems that these bunnies do enjoy human interaction and contact.
However, it is important to note that not all Flemish giant rabbits like being held. Some may prefer to just sit on the floor or ground and watch what is going on around them. As with any animal, you should always ask the owner before you try to pick up or hold their rabbit. If the rabbit seems uncomfortable, it is best just to leave it be.
What Exactly Is a Flemish Giant Rabbit?
As the popularity of rabbits as adorable family pets has grown in recent times, there has been an increase in the variety of large and giant breeds suitable for domestication as pets. The Flemish giant is the most famous of the lot but not the only one in the class. Giant Flemish rabbits make good pets but are also good for commercial purposes.
The Oldest Recognized Breed of Domestic Rabbits
The Flemish giants’ acclaim to fame is not for nothing. They are historically the oldest breed of rabbits to be domesticated by humans. The adjective Flemish is derived from the giant rabbits’ native land of origin: Flanders. Flanders is one of the regions of modern-day Belgium. Flanders is located to the north and borders the Netherlands and a part of France.
How Big Do Flemish Giant Rabbits Get?
The use of the term “giant” to refer to a rabbit often doesn’t do justice to just how big a member of a healthy breed can get. For example, an average Flemish giant weighs about 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms). However, some rabbits in the breed get a lot bigger, weighing up to 20 pounds (9 kilograms).
The weight of an average rabbit is between two to four pounds (about one to two kilograms). This means Flemish giants are often six times larger and heavier than a conventional pet rabbit!
Ultimate Size Records
The record for the largest Flemish giant weighed 22 pounds (10 kilograms). The rabbits can also record extraordinary body lengths. The longest Flemish giant rabbit ever recorded was four feet, three inches (over 1.3 meters) long. This is also the outright record for the longest ever rabbit in the world.
What Determines a Flemish Giant’s Size?
How heavy or big a Flemish giant eventually gets depends on a number of factors. For a Flemish giant to push the limits of the size and weight records, the nutrition in its early life plays a huge role. For instance, if the mother had an unusually large litter, some kits will end up not getting adequate milk as they nurse. This will hinder their development irrespective of how much nutrition they receive in the latter months and years of their life.
How Much Does a Flemish Giant Rabbit Cost?
If you are looking for a Flemish giant rabbit either as a pet or to raise for commercial reasons, you have plenty of options. Depending on your budget and reasons for becoming a Flemish giant rabbit owner, you can go for either of these suggestions.
Starting With Kits
The cheapest way to become a Flemish giant owner is to look for kits that have just been weaned of their mother’s milk. If this works for you, begin by looking up Flemish giant rabbit breeders who have the best offers.
Raising your rabbit from when it is a small kit has the added satisfaction of watching it grow and create a relationship. A lot of giant rabbits who are good pets joined the family as weaned kits. Such a pet rabbit is also likely to integrate easily with other pets in the family, such as dogs and cats.
A Breeding Set
If your aim is not to raise a pet but to start up a herd of Flemish giants, it is best to start off with a trio or quartet of breeding rabbits. This trio or quartet should be made of one buck, and either two or three does.
Starting with a single doe and buck is not advisable as there will not be adequate genetic variation in the progeny. On the other hand, if you have too many breeding adults, their rate of reproduction can soon get out of hand and overwhelm you with a motley collection of ravenous giant rabbits needing constant attention and feeding.
Flemish giants breed about two or three times a year. A typical litter is between five and twelve kits that attain breeding age within six to eight months with proper rabbit care. Therefore, an owner raising the rabbits for commercial purposes will need to have a good strategy to harvest and ensure constant breeding to keep the entire rabbit herd healthy.
A Full-grown Family Pet
It is still possible to get a full-sized Flemish rabbit as a family pet. Specialty breeders breed and raise Flemish giants fit for use as pet rabbits and animal companions. They make good pets, especially for a family with young kids.
The largest specimens of Flemish rabbits are those which make appearances at agricultural exhibitions and shows. Show quality rabbits are in the weight range of 20 pounds (over 10 kilos), and they have very expensive price tags.
The Lifespan of a Flemish Giant
As the gentle giants of the rabbit world, Flemish giant rabbits are much like what great Danes are in the dog world. They have a relatively short lifespan compared to smaller bunnies. There are some who are known to die suddenly even before they reach the age of two. But with proper care and nutrition, your Flemish giant can live over ten years.
How Do You Tell a Female Flemish Giant Rabbit From the Male?
Many rabbit owners find it very hard to differentiate between male and female rabbits. For most, the only way to establish the sex of a rabbit is to check the external genitalia. This is not the case with Flemish giants, though. Species that have different physical features for males and females are said to exhibit sexual dimorphism.
Male Flemish giant rabbits are always bigger than females. Their heads are also more sizeable and broader compared to those of females. Female Flemish giant rabbits also spot a conspicuous dewlap under the chin. They use this fur-covered fold of skin to keep their young ones warm.
Flemish Giant Temperament and Personality
Flemish giants make such good pets because they have commendable and adaptable temperaments and personalities. Not only are they intelligent but also docile and sociable. This is why they are affectionately called gentle giants of the rabbit world.
Flemish Giant Rabbits Seek Out Attention and Bonding
It is not uncommon to find your gentle giant Flemish rabbit pet actively seeking human attention. They use a variety of behaviors to greet and bond with their owners. These include standing on their hind legs to make an impression, nudging you with their nose to arrest your attention, hopping over and rubbing themselves against you, and even actively soliciting for a rub down as they lie on your lap.
Despite all their sociable characteristics, it is still important to keep in mind that Flemish giants have evolved as prey animals. Despite their relatively long history as domesticated animals, they still have a very strong instinct to run and hide.
Flemish giants are also easily spooked. Even the friendliest of them will violently start if sudden movements happen. The trick to enjoying their companionship is, therefore, gentleness and predictability. Hold them with care and avoid sudden movements or loud noises.
How to Read the Mood of Flemish Giants?
While rabbits, in general, are not as vocally expressive as more conventional family pets such as cats and dogs, Flemish giants do make a variety of sounds that can offer hints about their feelings and attitude. Flemish giant rabbits make sounds when happy, including purring, humming, and clucking.
Flemish giant rabbits make such sounds as growling or whimpering when they are uncomfortable or upset. You can also be sure your rabbit is unhappy or frightened if it is stomping its feet or grinding its teeth.
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Feeding and Care Guidelines for Your Flemish Giant Rabbit
Besides the need to provide adequate food and water, there are not many special grooming and care needs you need to give your giant Flemish rabbit.
Food and Health Requirements
Due to their inordinately large bodies, giant Flemish rabbits require a lot more food than you would give an average-sized rabbit.
Hay and Greens
The rabbits should be given adequate hay or fresh grass to meet their basic nutritional needs. They should also be fed adequate vegetables and fresh fruit. Ask your vet to provide you with the right recommendations about just how much vegetables and fruit you should give your rabbit.
Pellets and Treats
Flemish giants should also be given adequate rabbit pellets to supplement the hay and fresh vegetables’ nutritional needs. Some Flemish giant breeders recommend that pellets should be offered as often as possible and in unlimited quantities to ensure the rabbits have enough for their health needs. However, other rabbit breeders insist that an unlimited supply of pellets is only recommended for the rabbits over the first year of their life.
Rabbits that are over a year old should be fed pellets and other treats sparingly. Consult your veterinarian for more specific guidelines about what is ideal for your particular Flemish giant(s).
Housing and Living Space
To keep your giant Flemish rabbit healthy, you need to provide plenty of room: considerably bigger than what smaller rabbits need. It is important to keep in mind that rabbits love to hop even when they are in their hutches.
Flemish giants take as easily to living outdoors as they do indoors. But whichever structure you use to house the rabbit, you need to ensure it is adequate for their considerable size.
Minimum Space Requirements for Flemish Giant’s Enclosure
As a basic minimum, the rabbit’s enclosure should offer room for the rabbit to hop three times in a row without hitting a wall. The vertical space should also be roomy enough for the rabbit to stand on its hind legs without its erect ears touching the ceiling.
It is also worth keeping in mind that Flemish giants are very sensitive to heat. They can suffer terribly if left in poorly ventilated and aerated spaces in the heat of summer. Check out the health and care requirements section below for more specific guidelines on the right space and enclosure needs for your giant rabbits.
Grooming and Fur Care
A Flemish giant’s coat is made of thick and glossy fur. However, this is not as long nor as prone to disheveling as in other fur rabbit breeds. Here are some guidelines for Flemish giant care guidelines to ensure the fur is in a good state.
Hair Grooming Guide for Your Giant Rabbit
Flemish giant rabbit breeders recommend that you brush up the fur about once a week. Only when the rabbit is molting or shedding hair (this happens twice a year) may it be necessary to brush the coat about twice a week. Flemish giant rabbit breeders recommend the use of a slicker brush to groom the rabbit’s hair.
As with other rabbit breeds, the Flemish giant rabbit likes being petted and rubbed. As you rub the rabbit’s fur, ensure you do so along the grain. Rabbits enjoy the sensation of their fur being rubbed and smoothed in the natural direction of growth.
Checking for Parasites
The only exception to the rule on rubbing a hair’s fur in the natural would be when you check for skin health or the presence of external parasites. The most common external parasites on Flemish giant rabbits are ear mites and fur mites. If you find any, consult your vet on the best topical application to use in controlling the menace.
As members of the largest rabbit breed, Flemish giant’s nails grow quickly. In the wild, where rabbits are constantly on their feet, running and hopping about, the nails wear off through natural activity. You will, however, have to keep your rabbit’s nails short actively.
Unlike grooming their fur, rabbits hate having their nails done. You should therefore be careful before clipping the nails. Many pet owners find the process a lot easier by first wrapping the giant rabbit in a towel first. The rabbit will also prove easier to handle if you have a friend assisting in keeping it placid as you clip the nails.
Bedding and Litter Tray Requirements
Owing to their inordinate intelligence and sociable traits, Flemish giants are among the rabbits which are easiest to litter train. That said, litter training will only be effective if you select the correct litter and litter box.
Avoid any litter material that is crystal in nature as this can hurt the very sensitive rabbit’s feet and hocks. Paper-based litter in pellet form works well as it can absorb odor too. You can also choose hardwood stove pellet litter as it is an affordable alternative.
Even after your Flemish giant has been litter trained, you may still need to clean up after them. First, you will need to keep changing the bedding and litter to keep the rabbit enclosure healthy. You should also clean any pee and poop that does not collect in the litter box.
Do Flemish Giant Rabbits Bite?
Flemish giant rabbits are naturally docile and take easily to the company of humans as well as other domestic animals. This docile nature is what accounts for the great popularity of the rabbits as companion animals and loving family pets.
But as with any other docile breed of rabbit, there are certain exceptions. Rabbits evolved to be very wary animals. If they feel threatened, they will try their best to escape and may kick savagely to gain freedom. So while it is unlikely that your giant rabbit will bite you in any event, it is still important to handle them with care and precaution. As a general rule, you should never hold your Flemish giant either by the ears, tail, or legs.
Common Flemish Giant Health Issues
The health issues that are likely to affect your Flemish giant bunny are very similar to those afflict other rabbit breeds. That said, here is a look at some of the most likely health issues to affect your giant bunny:
Sore hocks or Pododermatitis is a condition to which giant pet rabbits such as Flemish giants are very prone to. These gentle giants can apply too much pressure to the hocks due to their extraordinary weight, especially if they lead very pedestrian lives locked up in cages or hutches. In addition, the condition can be exacerbated if the rabbits spend too much time standing on wire floors or if the living quarters are generally unsanitary.
If sore hocks issues are not identified and treated early, they can worsen and even kill the rabbit. Therefore, you should check your rabbit’s hocks and feet area every couple of days to ensure they are not in danger. Moreover, you should ensure thick and soft bedding is used to line the floor of the hutch. In this way, the rabbits can rest without putting too much pressure on the hocks.
Malocclusion, commonly referred to as buck teeth, is a condition characterized by overgrown incisor teeth or molars in rabbits. Rabbit teeth grow constantly throughout their life. But as the rabbit feeds and gnaws at food material, the teeth naturally wear down to their right size.
If the teeth grow in such a fashion that there is a misalignment between opposing teeth on the lower and upper jaws, the natural way of wearing down will not happen. Misaligned rabbit teeth can grow to extraordinary lengths. They can cause serious injury to the rabbit’s face and nose area.
A quick summary
Giant Flemish rabbits are among the most adorable family pets on top of being compelling options for commercial breeding. They have a docile nature, making it easy to hold and pet them.
Provided they are fed adequately and provided with adequate shelter and grooming; the rabbits will live long and provide a lot of fulfilling moments for the entire family. As a Flemish giant rabbit owner, you should also constantly check with your vet to ensure that your rabbit is getting the best care and attention it needs.