Other name(s): Vlaamse Reus; Vlaamse Reuzen
Sometimes described as the “gentle giants” of the rabbit world, the Flemish Giant can reach weights of up to 22 pounds! Fortunately, this docile breed is well-known for its calm and easy-going nature. Though once bred primarily for fur and meat, the Flemish Giant is now one of the most popular breeds kept for show and as a pet. Keep in mind, however, that this 20 pound bunny requires both more space and more food than your average rabbit!
Rabbits have unique and dynamic personalities and can form close, loving bonds with their owners. Many can be trained to use a litterbox, will come when you call their name, and may even enjoy learning a couple of tricks. Coupled with the fact that they’re quiet, require relatively little space, and are very low odor, it’s not hard to see why rabbits have become the third most popular pet in the United States and Great Britain.
There are a few important things to consider before choosing a rabbit as a pet. Rabbits will require your time and attention. They’re very social, curious, and playful animals and will live a sad life if kept confined to a cage with little interaction. They will need space and opportunity to exercise and explore, and you’ll need to make sure the space has been rabbit-proofed against nibbling and gnawing. A rabbit is a long-term commitment with many living more than 10 years – sadly, with their popularity on the rise, the number of rabbits abandoned to shelters and rescues has also risen.
Rabbits are a poor choice as a pet for young children. They may be soft and cute, but rabbits are easily stressed and frightened around loud noises and activity and can easily be injured.
Appearance / health:
The Flemish Giant is a large rabbit with a semi-arched back and broad hips. It is notably muscular, rounded, and solid. The head is also round and relatively large. The ears are long and upright. The fur is dense and glossy and rolls back when stroked. Females carry a dewlap or skin fold under the chin. One of the largest rabbits in the world, the Flemish Giant has weighed in at more than 20 pounds.
Color variations of the Flemish Giant include Black, Blue, Fawn, Gray, White, Sandy, Steel, and Light Gray.
Like other small mammals, Flemish Giants can be susceptible to colds and viral infections. Exposure to draft, sudden changes in temperature and stress can lower the rabbit’s resistance to sickness. Rabbits are also vulnerable to conjunctivitis (a bacterial infection of the eyelids caused by smoke, dust, and fumes) and ear mites. Intestinal ailments like coccidiosis (parasites propagated by unsanitary conditions), bloat, and hairball obstructions are also common in rabbits.
Behavior / temperament:
Flemish Giant Rabbits are calm, friendly, and affectionate. They’re also very playful, curious, and active, and they’ll need plenty of room to exercise and play. They’re relatively intelligent and may come when their name is called or even learn a few tricks! Because of their docile nature, they may be a good choice for households with older children – however, the Flemish Giant isn’t fond of being picked up, and they’re easily frightened by loud noises. The Flemish Giant gets along well with other domesticated pets like cats, dogs, and guinea pigs.
Rabbits are social animals, and are happiest when kept in pairs or trios. Rabbits may bond very closely to one another, forming a near-inseparable “bonded pair”. Non-bonded rabbits should have their own cage and should be carefully supervised until they get to know one another. A rabbit kept singly will need lots of time and attention from their human caretaker, though human companionship can never fully substitute for the interaction they have with each other. Ideally a single rabbit will be allowed plenty of free access to its owner, whether that’s cuddling on the couch or following them around the kitchen.
They are most active at sunset and at daybreak. In general, rabbits are physically fragile and easily stressed, and not recommended as pets for young children.
Flemish Giants are best kept indoors to protect them from extreme temperatures, predators, and other outdoor dangers. They should be allowed to roam and exercise, preferably where they can get sunlight and fresh air. Extension hutches, exercise pens or lawn enclosures are recommended for safe outdoor exposure.
If kept in a cage, the enclosure should be at least five times the size of the rabbit with plenty of room to stretch and stand upright. Wire mesh flooring should be avoided because it can cause pain and injury to a rabbit’s feet. A hide-away box or sleeping quarters should be provided as a quiet place for a rabbit to retreat to feel safe and for sleep. Baby toys and interesting items should also be available for entertainment. Another option is housing your rabbit in a play-pen or puppy-pen.
Many rabbits can be trained to use a litter box, and is especially useful to provide them in any room they’re allowed to free-roam. The best litters are non-toxic (rabbits may try to nibble on their litter) and dust free. Recycled paper litters or pellets, citrus-based litters, compressed wood pellets, aspen shavings, newspaper (ensure the ink is non-toxic), and hay are all appropriate litters. Avoid clumping litters as they can clump inside the digestive tract if eaten, and never use wood shavings from pine or cedar.
Rabbits may also be allowed to roam inside the house as long as the areas where they are free to explore are “rabbit-proofed” for safety.
Flemish Giant Rabbits are herbivorous and their diet will mainly consist of hay, pellets, and vegetables. Hay is an important for both digestive health and dental health. Grass hays such as timothy, orchard, and oat hay can be fed in unlimited quantities, but alfalfa is high in calories and should only be provided occasionally. Fresh pellets should also be made available daily – choose a pellet high in fiber and avoid mixes that include other foods like corn, seeds, or dried fruit.
Fresh foods are also an important part of your rabbit’s diet. Dark, leafy greens like kale, romaine lettuce, spring greens, and some spinach should make up approximately 75% of the fresh food given to your rabbit daily, with vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, and summer squash making up the other 25%. Fruits and starchy vegetables should be limited in the diet, but make great treats! Make sure that all fresh foods are washed thoroughly, and uneaten fresh foods should be removed at the end of the day.
Fresh water should always be available, either from a sipper bottle or in a stable water bowl.
moister meat, Gentle Giants, hobby farmer, wonderful personality, livestock purposes, 4H kids
special housing, lazy breed, oversized cages, extreme temperatures, wire cage, heat prostration
higher protein levels, largest breed, little body harness, strong hind legs, air conditioned barn, leash
You'll choke up over a Flemish Giant
We had two male Flemish Giant rabbits for about six years. Of all the breeds I've raised, these are the absolute BEST! Nothing else is even close. They are the embodiment of lovable, cuddly plush toys. Except for shoveling out under their cage, there is no trick at all to keeping them happy and healthy. (okay, I never did enjoy shoveling poop of any kind. there, I said it!)
Our biggest male, Thumper (seriously, what else would you call a huge, fluffy rabbit?) was close to 20 pounds. The other one was about 15 pounds. They lived outside year-round in a 2.5' x 2.5' x 8' cage. I put a small sleeping hutch in the cage to keep them comfortable in cold weather if they wanted, but even in the most bitter of winter storms they preferred to simply sit on top of the sleeping hutch snuggled up with each other.
You are ahead of the game if you feed them a high quality rabbit food pellet as a staple and then augment their feeding with garden produce. Mine seemed to prefer dandelion flowers. They would not even touch iceberg lettuce. No food value. Interesting. True to Peter Rabbit style, they also loved carrots.
We found that we could release Thumper into the fenced yard without fear of him scampering off. Twenty pound rabbits do not scamper. They do an odd form of jump-lumbering to get around, then sit there catching their breath. Flemish Giants are unlikely to become feral and live successfully in the wild. They seem to know this and like to cuddle up next to their owner. That's a very nice trait.
Keeping water bottles from freezing in the winter was quite a trick. I tried heaters, wraps, and anything else I could think of. Finally, out of complete desperation, I put a drop of vodka into their water. It worked! Not enough to hurt them, of course, but just enough to keep the water liquid during the milder winter days. Their response was very interesting. They would push each other out of the way in an effort to get to the water bottle. They loved the mixture. Probably sweet to them. I took a sip from the main mixing jug and you could barely tell anything was in there. When Spring came, I would go back to straight water as early as possible. Every year they would rush to the water bottle, take a sip, jump back and look at me with those big accusing rabbit eyes. In a tiff, they would refuse to drink straight water until they became very thirsty.
Eventually they passed away. It was almost like losing a dog. Yup, you certainly can't go wrong with Flemish Giants..
From CarlF Aug 17 2015 4:30PM
A rabbit favorite!
Dandelion greens are especially a favorite of rabbits and often you can find some of it growing wild in your own yard and kids especially love hunting for the plats so they can hand the treat to the rabbits themselves. It is good for the rabbits to eat greens in addition to their feed..
From EllieB 570 days ago
A true giant of the rabbit world!
The Flemish giant rabbit amazes most people with its sheer size. It ranges from 14 to 20 pounds at adulthood, with bucks (boys) heavier in the weight range than does (girls). This rabbit is known to inquisitive and friendly, though less active than its smaller counterparts. The steel grey color is considered breed standard in most areas, though brown is another accepted color. You will want to handle young rabbits so they are accustomed to people prior to growing to their intense adult size. Flemish giants originated in the Flanders region of Belgium and became popular in Europe due to their size for meat production and hide. They are currently one of the most popular rabbits at US rabbit shows. You are sure to have an intriguing bunny in your home if you have one of these but be sure to plan its housing accordingly as typical rabbit housing will not fit this behemoth. .
From christyoz Oct 5 2016 4:01AM