Large/giant Rabbits: Special Advice About Care
Common large breeds: Large: French Lop, German Lop, British Giant, Belgian Hare
Giant: British Giant, Continental Giant, Flemish Giant, Giant Papillion.
For general rabbit care please see our sheets
Ensuring enough living space for a large/giant rabbit
The largest rabbit breeds, which can weigh over 8 kgs, require a large space to live in. A standard rabbit hutch is not ideal and the animal’s living space needs to be at least tall enough for the rabbit to stand on its hind legs without hitting the roof. Hutches that offer accommodation on different levels are not suitable either as the larger breeds often find steps difficult. A small shed or wendy-house, or a rabbit proof room in a house are the better options and a bed like a dog basket or large cat basket could be provided.
These rabbits need plenty of exercise, so a large enough and secure run is necessary.
Large rabbits can live quite happily with smaller breeds - they are not big bullies - but as with any animal, careful introduction and checking on the animals’ compatibility is important.
Diet for large/giant rabbits
Diets for these breeds is essentially the same as for standard size rabbits (see our article on general rabbit care. In addition though it is advisable to offer vitamin supplements to avoid joint problems as the animal gets older. Long hay which requires a good deal of chewing is essential to keep the teeth healthy. These breeds are prone to becoming overweight (with all the resultant problems, ie the rabbit not being able to clean itself, strain on joints and strain on the heart, so their diet should be carefully monitored.
Large/giant rabbit health
It is a sad fact that these rabbits do not live as long as the smaller breeds; up to 6 years is average. They are prone to joint and teeth problems (see the importance of diet above) and also can have problems with their eyes and heart.
The very large rabbits can have problems keeping clean as they are not as mobile and supple as smaller rabbits and, particularly as they age, they find it hard to clean their hind-quarters. Long furred large rabbits (such as the French lop) have further difficulties as long fur around their bottoms and a longish tail compound the problems. Owners must help their rabbits with frequent grooming and also feeding their pet carefully to avoid stomach upsets which may lead to loose stools.
For more details about some specific examples of long haired breeds please see individual rabbit breeds’ care sheets on our site (large/giant is written beside their titles so that you can locate them).
Article by: The Pet Owners Association/Fur & Feather Magazine
Fur & feather Magazine is a must have specialist on line website and with monthy magazine for anyone who is interested in rabbits and other small animals such as cavies and pet rodents. The Pet Owners Association is grateful for Fur & Feather’s help in compiling our rabbit care sheets and for use of their images. Please see Fur & Feather’s website for in depth features about these pets’ care and other matters, including a detailed diary of events throughout the UK and a directory of clubs, breeders as well as information on services and products.
They feature pages about the physical characteristics of the particular rabbit breeds.
(pictured above a Belgian Hare: photo courtesy of Fur & Feather)
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