FLEMISH GIANT RABBIT
If you’re looking for a gentle giant, you can’t go wrong with the Flemish Giant Rabbit. Their large size might seem intimidating, but they are quite calm and sweet natured. This rabbit makes a great pet. Its personality has been compared to that of the most gentle of dog breeds. Flemish Giants usually get along very well with other pets too.
The Flemish Giant is the largest rabbit breed in existence. These loyal pets thrive on attention, and they are gentle and mellow enough to be trusted with children. However its large size means it is not an ideal pet for small children. Small children could injure themselves or the rabbit when attempting to pick it up. But it is great for older children who can handle it properly.
The origins of the Flemish Giant rabbit are uncertain. It is believed that the Flemish Giant rabbit is the modern descendant of the Patagonian rabbit of Argentina which was brought to Europe by 16th and 17th century by Dutch traders. The large rabbits of Flanders were well known at the time, and may have been cross bred with the Patagonian. While the name "Flemish" comes from Flanders, the similarities to the Patagonian lead many to speculate that this giant is in fact descended primarily from the wild Argentine rabbits. This is highly unlikely, because the only native rabbits in Argentina, the tapeti (Sylvilagus brasiliensis) weighs less than two pounds. The Patagonian hare (Dolichotis patagonum), an Argentinian rodent also known as the mara, is even less likely since it is not even a rabbit and cannot interbreed with European rabbits.
However, opponents of this theory point out the the Argentina Patagonian rabbit is actually classified as a Cavy and association with the Flemish Giant is very doubtful. Instead, it is argued that the Flemish came from combinations of a number of giant breeds from the old Flemish region possibly including the Steenkonijn (Stone Rabbit) and the European "patagonian" breed (now extinct). An alternative hypothesis put forward is that near the end of the 19th century, the Flemish Giant as we know it today was developed in eastern Europe and the first standards were written by Albert Van Heuverzwijn in 1893. On the other hand, Wilkins (1896) wrote that the Flemish Giant was developed from the Leporine imported into England in the middle 1800 and shares its ancestry with the Belgian hare.
As one of the largest breeds of domestic rabbit the Flemish Giant is a semi-arch type rabbit with its back arch starting back of the shoulders and carrying through to the base of the tail giving a "mandolin" shape. The body of a Flemish Giant Rabbit is long and powerful with good muscular development and relatively broad hindquarters. Bucks have a broad, massive head in comparison to does. Does may have a large, full, evenly carried dewlap(the fold of skin under their chins). The fur of the Flemish Giant is known to be glossy and dense, and when stroked from the hindquarters to the head, the fur will roll back to its original position. It can come in several different colours, including black, blue, fawn, light gray, sandy, steel gray and white. They are shown in six classes (three buck classes and three doe classes): Junior bucks and does under 6 months, Intermediate bucks and does 6–8 months, and Senior bucks and does 8+ months. The minimum show weight for a Senior (older than 8 months) doe is 14 lbs, and the minimum weight of a Senior buck is 13 pounds. It is not unusual to see a 22 pound Flemish Giant, and specimens weighing 28 pounds have been reported.
Behaviour & Lifestyle
Flemish Giants are known to be quite placid and laid-back, and as a result, they are known to be docile and tolerant of considerable handling, but could become fearful if handled incorrectly or irresponsibly, and for this reason it is generally recommended that it be under the care of an experienced or mature owner.
Due to its large size, the Flemish needs a relatively large hutch so it has room to move about without standing on its ears, and will require more food compared to other breeds of domestic rabbit. It is common for a wooden hutch made of a heavy wood with a waterproof roof, and raised off the ground to be provided if the rabbit is living outdoors, or a wooden hutch or cage if it is kept indoors. The cage would have a plastic or wire base with a wire lid fixed to the base. All rabbits must have an adequate exercise area, whether it is an outside run or an enclosed area in the house. The floor of the cage or hutch should be covered with an appropriate bedding, and in cold or wet weather, bedding material, such as straw can be provided for the outdoor rabbit. It is recommended that the rabbit hutch or cage be cleaned out at least weekly and any old food, bedding be removed at least every three days to prevent soiling of the fur and special hutch disinfectants to be used to prevent the spread of bacteria. Also, an earthenware food bowl and a drinking bottle will also be required to feed and water the rabbit. Unlike other breeds, the Flemish Giant will only require mild attention to grooming due to its short-hair.
Flemish can also be kept in a fenced-in yard much like a small dog. Their large size prevents them from becoming prey to hawks and neighborhood cats. They will however need protection from wind, rain, snow and sleet. Extra precautions must be made to ensure that they cannot escape from the yard.