True to their name, Flemish Giant rabbits are one of the biggest rabbit breeds in the world. At just 18 months, these gentle giants weigh about 12-20 pounds. This makes them the same size as small to medium-size dogs.
It is not hard to see why someone might want to adopt this extraordinary and adorable animal from the size alone. But have you ever stopped to wonder how long Flemish giant rabbits live?
This is an important factor to consider if you plan on adopting a Flemish bunny as your pet. But before we get into more details, here is a little history of Flemish Giant rabbits.
About Flemish Rabbits
Flemish Giants are the largest rabbit breed in the world, typically weighing an average of 6-7 kg at adulthood. These rabbits have a smooth fur coat with a dense undercoat that requires weekly grooming to keep their coat in top condition and prevent the risk of pest infestations. The American Rabbit Breeders Association recognizes seven colors of flemish giant rabbit breed including; White, light gray, steel gray, blue, sandy, fawn, and black.
Origins of Flemish Rabbits
Flemish giant rabbits are one of the oldest breeds of rabbits in history. According to some experts, these rabbit breed is descended from ancient giant rabbit breeds like the Stone Rabbot and the European Patagonian. These breeds were originally bred for meat and fur. Today, the Continental giant rabbits are descendants of the Flemish Giant rabbit.
As a breed, Flemish rabbits are often described as gentle giants because of their easy-going, calm and docile nature. They are one of the calmest and most friendly breeds of rabbits. They are very friendly with their owners and other pets, making them ideal family pets. Flemish rabbits enjoy the attention and affection of their human companions.
Every so often, owners are advised to pick them up, making sure not to hurt their fragile backs, which tend to break easily if dropped. Still, it is important to stress that these friendly bunnies do have powerful hindquarters and might kick, bite or scratch when they feel threatened or scared.
These giant rabbits are quite intelligent and are easy to house train. However, if you consider becoming a Flemish rabbit owner, it is always best to learn all you can before you buy, including their expected lifespan.
How Long Do Flemish Rabbits Live?
When adopting a new pet, it is important for the owners to take into consideration how long the animal will live. Most domestic rabbits can live for many years provided they are properly taken care of. However, certain breeds of rabbits will live longer than others. For instance, European rabbits live for a year or two, while the dwarf and medium-sized pet rabbits may reach 12 years as they are not at risk of disease and predators.
That said, the lifespan of Flemish giants is anywhere between 5 to 8 years. But if you take proper care of your bunny, they may live for longer. Diet, housing, daily care, grooming, and neutering or spaying are all vital factors that will have permanent effects on the life and longevity of your pet rabbits. If well cared for, flemish rabbits can live up to 10 years.
Factors That Determine How Long Your Flemish Rabbit Will Live
Proper diet, exercise, and grooming are all vital factors for these giant rabbits to live a long, happy life. To help your Flemish Giant rabbit live into its golden years, there are a few things you need to do.
Like any pet, these furballs require a special diet for optimum health. A healthy, balanced diet contributes immensely to your rabbit’s longevity. Overweight or underweight bunnies are more likely to die younger than the average Flemish giant rabbit lifespan.
- Pellets: Flemish rabbits need high-quality pellet feed to stay healthy. A high-quality rabbit pellet should have a nice fresh smell to it. It will also be green to brownish in color and be completely or at least primarily dust free. These pellets should be fed at 1 tablespoon per kg of body weight.
- Hay: Hay provides your pet rabbit with the necessary fiber. Timothy hay is the most recommended hay for rabbits. Its fiber and calcium content is ideal for the needs of your bunny. Hay should make up 85% of their diet.
- Vegetable: Feed your bunny a pile of healthy fresh leafy greens and herbs the size of its head each day.
- Treats: Occasional treats like seedless apples, beet tops, banana, seedless berries, cucumbers, dandelions, carrots, fruit tree leaves, twigs, mango, Romaine lettuce, pineapple, radish, and raisins are all great treats for your pet rabbit. Just make sure not to give them too many treats, which can lead to obesity.By feeding your bunny a poor diet, it can become malnourished or overweight, which may lead to gastrointestinal stasis and ultimately death.
Equally important is the right environment and proper care. If, for instance, your rabbit friend lives outside, they might fall victim to predators such as foxes. As for indoor rabbits, if unsupervised, they may chew through electric cables or eat poisonous plants leading to an early death.
Even giant breeds require regular exercise each day to keep healthy and in good shape. They need plenty of space to hop around, or they are at risk of developing health problems.
Mental Health Nourishment
Flemish rabbits are intelligent, social creatures. They need toys and socialization to thrive and keep their minds stimulated. A bored or lonely rabbit can suffer depression, which may lead to self-destructive behaviors and premature death.
Giant-sized rabbits need Giant-sized sheds to live happily. If you want your giant pet rabbit to live indoors, allowing it free roam your house is not a bad idea as long as someone is always present to supervise it. A good shelter for indoor rabbits is a dog cage. Just make sure to cover the wire floor with fresh straw to protect your bunny from getting sore hocks.
Another good option is the use of a spare room, enclosed porch, or storage area that is devoted partially or completely to rabbit life. Just make sure to rabbit-proof the room by covering electrical outlets and putting away everything you do not want to be damaged. As with all rabbits, they need physical and mental stimulation. So create tunnels, places to dig, hide and forage, and provide them with a variety of pet-friendly toys.
Factors That May Shorten the Life of Your Flemish Rabbit
Like any other large breed of rabbit, Flemish giant rabbits are more prone to certain health conditions.
- Osteoarthritis: As they age, they may begin to suffer from osteoarthritis, which is painful and may hinder their mobility.
- Sore hocks: Your bunny may also suffer sore hocks due to the amount of weight they put on their feet. This condition is painful and debilitating.
- Cardiac disease (heart disease) is also common in Flemish rabbits and can cause sudden death even in young kits.
- Dental issues: Failing to feed your bunny the right diet can lead to painful dental disease.
- Flystrike – This occurs when flies lay eggs on a bunny’s fur. The eggs eventually hatch into maggots that eat into your furry friend’s flesh. If not mitigated, flystrike can lead to death in a matter of just a few hours.
- Rabbit hemorrhagic disease: This is a viral disease in rabbits that causes anorexia, exhaustion, fever, and death. Regular vaccination effectively helps prevent this condition.
- Myxomatosis: This is another deadly viral disease that causes puffy eyelids, swelling, and pus-producing conjunctivitis.
- Encephalitozoon Cuninuuli: Also known as E. Cunuculi, this is a parasite that causes significant disease in rabbits. Symptoms include urinary incontinence, a head tilt, weakness of the hind legs, unsteadiness, and neck spasm.
Always consult your vet if you are concerned about your Giant bunny’s health.
Extreme weather conditions such as extreme heat, snow, and wind can cause death in Flemish rabbits. For instance, in summer, your bunny may suffer heatstroke.
Many animals hunt rabbits, such as eagles and foxes. So make sure your bunny’s hutch is sufficiently protected against these animals.
How to Take Care of These Giant Rabbit Breed
If you are a new Flemish rabbit owner, we strongly recommend following these tips to ensure your bunny lives a long, happy, and healthy life.
As with all pet animals, Flemish bunnies are no exception to the rule of being dependent on their human owners, not only to protect them from predators and mother nature but also for their day-to-day care.
Conduct regular checks on your bunny in search of scratches, blisters- abscesses, missing fur, matted fur, open wounds, mucous on or around their ears, eyes, or nose, and dry or dry crusty skin. Also, check to see whether they are drinking their water, if they’ve eaten their feed since you last fed them if they are acting normal, whether they are grinding their teeth or making funny or unusual sounds, and whether they are moving much or not other things.
Each and every one of these things is important as they are often an indication of an upcoming or underlying problem, some of which can be life-threatening. The sooner you catch the problem, the higher their chances of recovery.
On average, a rabbit’s pen should be cleaned at least once a week. This includes changing bedding-covered floors, throwing out the old litter, and washing their drop pans and drinkers. Doing this not only helps you kill the odors of rabbit urine but also helps to prevent disease.
Next, you also need to ensure you brush out your bunny’s fur. This not only helps maintain the fur in good condition, but it also helps them release natural oils, which are used to keep their skin healthy. Fur brushing also provides a great way to examine your bunny for missing fur, dandruff, and parasites, which can quickly get out of control if not treated as soon as possible.
Neuter or Spay
Spaying or neutering your giant bunny provides an effective way to increase your bunny’s lifespan. Neutering is done on male rabbits and involves the removal of testicles. Testicles produce testosterone which causes stress. Stress can put a strain on your bunny’s heart, leading to health problems. Neutered male rabbits lack excessive amounts of testosterone, leaving them calmer and less aggressive. As a result, neutered bunnies generally live longer.
Spaying female rabbits are the removal of ovaries and the uterus. Female rabbits are prone to different cancers, and spaying helps eliminate this risk.
Enrichment activities make your rabbit’s life more interesting. Some ways of enriching your bunny’s life is through toys, socialization, exploration, and individualized play with their owners. If it lives indoors, allow your bunny to explore the house as long as it is bunny-proofed. If you have a garden or yard, consider setting up a run to allow your bunny some outdoor time. Generally, keeping fit is essential for optimal animal health. So exercise will help keep your bunny healthy, happy, and alive for longer.
Flemish Giant rabbits are larger than life both in their size and personality. They make wonderful pets, but just like any animal, before taking them on, you need to be sure that you can meet all their needs for their entire life. Take proper care of your bunny, and they might be part of your family for a decade.
How Big Do Flemish Giant Rabbits Get?
Also known as the king of rabbits because of their colossal size, giant Flemish rabbits can grow to 2.5 feet in length and up to 15 pounds in weight on average. Male Flemish giant rabbits tend to weigh more and have broader heads in comparison to female Flemish Giant rabbits. According to breed standards, a quality Flemish rabbit has a large head, erect ears, evenly colored coat, a rounded rump, thick, glossy fur, and a long and powerful body.
What Age Are Flemish Giant Rabbits Fully Grown?
Flemish giant rabbits do not reach full size until they are a year and a half old. During this time, these giant rabbits consume a large amount of food.
Can Flemish Rabbits Be House Trained?
Flemish rabbits are smart animals that are easy to litter box train. Place the litter box in their pen, and your bunny will quickly adapt. Once fully toilet trained, you can allow the bunny-free roam of your home.
What Is the Population of Flemish Rabbits in the World?
According to IUCN, flemish rabbits are considered an endangered species. Their numbers have been reducing since the mid 20th century. This decline is attributed to pests and disease, environmental change, habitat loss, and hunting for meat and fur.
How Fast Does a Giant Flemish Rabbit Run?
Flemish rabbits possess powerful hind legs that give them a lot of speed. On average, these giant rabbits can run 72.4 kph (45 mph) when running on a straight line, which is rarely the case. Usually, they run in a zigzag manner to avert predators. As a result, they attain speeds of 48.3 – 56.3 kph (30-35 mph).