The Flemish Giant rabbit, also known as the Belgian Giant rabbit and Welsh Giant rabbit, is a domestic rabbit breed that dates back to the 16th century.
These buns have since been bred to create several other breeds. Unfortunately, they’ve long been used for meat and fur due to their large size.
They’re also known for their calm dispositions and they make excellent house pets. Though you should never view them as an easy “starter” pet or an impulse buy, they’re very rewarding for dedicated bunny owners!
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Flemish Giant rabbit. You’ll learn about their size, care, how long do Flemish giants live, and much more in this complete guide.
Table of contents
- What do Flemish Giant Rabbits Look Like?
- Flemish Giant Diet
- How Big are Flemish Giant Poops?
- Flemish Giant Rabbit Lifespan
- Flemish Giant Rabbit Grooming
- Flemish Giant Rabbit Hutch
- Flemish Giant Bunny Behavior and Training
- How to Handle Flemish Giants
- Flemish Giant Rabbit Veterinary Care
- Continental Giant Rabbit vs. Flemish Giant
What do Flemish Giant Rabbits Look Like?
Flemish Giant rabbits are one of the largest domestic bunny species. They can weigh over 20 pounds and grow to over 4 feet in length!
The average Flemish Giant rabbit size is around 15 pounds.
The back of a Flemish Giant is slightly arched, and their coat is thick and dense. When you pet them backward (from tail to head), their fur will roll back into place.
Bucks, or male rabbits, have much larger heads and take longer to grow to their full size. While does (female rabbits) reach maturity at one year of age, bucks take around one and a half years to reach maturity.
Does also have a full dewlap.
Coat color variations include black, blue, fawn, sandy, light gray, steel gray, and white.
White Flemish Giant rabbits typically have red eyes, which makes them the least popular color that people adopt as pets. These buns are just as sweet, however, and have tons of love to give!
Flemish Giant Diet
In this section, we’ll tell you everything there is to know about feeding your Flemish Giant rabbit. Here are a few things to keep in mind, first:
- Flemish Giant bunnies are BIG rabbits! This means they need a lot more food than smaller buns.
- Rabbits have very sensitive tummies, so it’s important to introduce new foods slowly.
- Always provide plenty of fresh water for your rabbit in a dish, never in a water bottle.
- Bunnies love to chew—always keep your Flemish Giant in a bunny-proofed area with no toxic or dangerous items, plants, or foods within reach.
What do Flemish Giants Eat in the Wild?
Flemish Giants are a domesticated rabbit breed that should never be set free into the wild. However, their diet is very similar to that of any wild rabbit.
The wild rabbit’s diet mostly consists of fresh grass. They are grazers who will also take advantage of any fresh fruits or vegetables available to them.
If you’ve ever planted a garden, you likely know already that rabbits take this opportunity. The wild buns near my house love to eat from the vegetable garden and even munch on my hens and chicks succulent plants!
In the winter, rabbit diets are more wood-based—consisting of things like bark, twigs, and pine needles.
Rabbits receive less nutrition in the winter, which is one reason that they eat their own droppings. While this seems gross to us, the majority of rabbit feces contains a lot of nutrients that the buns can’t let go to waste.
What Should You Feed Your Flemish Giant?
Flemish Giant bunnies are herbivores with a few elements to their diet:
Timothy hay should be provided to your rabbit at all times. In the wild, a rabbit’s diet consists mainly of fresh grass. Timothy hay allows us to meet this need for our bunnies and should be at least 70% of your Giant Flemish’s diet.
The next thing they need is plenty of fresh vegetables.
A variety of daily veggies is best, such as a combination of parsley, spinach, carrot tops, small pieces of celery, and other greens.
Introduce new veggies slowly until you can provide a good variety each day.
Fruit should be fed sparingly as an occasional treat for your Flemish Giant bunny. Fruits are high in natural sugars, and are unhealthy for your bunny to eat mass amounts of—that would be like feeding a child a bunch of chocolate for dinner every day!
Lastly, your rabbit’s pellets should contain at least 18% protein. Feed your rabbit pellets daily, but in moderation. If given too many pellets, your rabbit may quickly become overweight.
Flemish Giant Rabbit Toxic Foods List
Many common foods are toxic to Flemish Giant rabbits, including some veggies that are easy to mistake as healthy for your bun. They include:
- Fruit pits and seeds
- Uncooked onions
- Raw leeks
- Fresh garlic
- Broad beans
- Kidney beans
- Iceberg lettuce
- Processed foods
- Raw potatoes
Many common houseplants and outdoor plants are also toxic to rabbits, so be sure to keep those out of reach as well.
Always supervise your bunny during outdoor time, and never leave toxic materials around the house within your rabbit’s reach.
How Big are Flemish Giant Poops?
Flemish Giant poops are quite large! If you’ve had a small rabbit in the past, you will notice that Flemish Giants have much bigger droppings—this isn’t something to worry about, but is simply due to their size.
However, there are other important characteristics to look for when assessing the health of your rabbit’s gut.
- Consistency. Their size and shape should be uniform.
- Healthy poops are brittle. Meaning, when you hold them and apply gentle pressure, they should crumble into a consistency similar to sawdust.
- Color. Rabbits that eat plenty of timothy hay should have lighter and larger poops. Dark, moist poop may signal too much protein in their diet.
Here are a few other things to look out for when it comes to your bunny’s poop:
- Diarrhea. Although this is rarely seen in rabbits, it can be a sign that they have a parasite infection or possibly were exposed to some type of poison. We recommend getting your bunny to the vet as soon as possible for evaluation.
- Small inconsistent or misshapen poop. This can be a sign that your rabbit isn’t eating enough. It’s common after surgery or if your bunny’s teeth hurt. Either way, it’s a good idea to consult with your veterinarian.
- Small round poop can be a sign of stress in rabbits. However, it’s typically temporary and they should return to their usual size within several hours. Persistent small poops can be a sign of chronic pain or a partial intestinal blockage. This should be evaluated by a vet.
- “Double” poops are what happens when the rabbit’s digestion slows and multiple pills come together to form a double poop. This is usually due to stress or advancing age. If you notice that your bunny has multiple double or triple poops per day, you may want to talk to your vet about a stimulant to help get your bunny’s gut back in balance.
- Mucous in your bunny’s poop can result from eating something that has irritated their intestinal lining. It’s also common after a course of antibiotics. If you ntoice that your rabbit’s poop contains thick or large amounts of mucous, we recommend a vet consult. This can be a sign of parasites or other serious conditions.
Flemish Giant Rabbit Lifespan
Flemish Giants are still babies until they are 12-18 months old. During this time, they continue growing until they reach their full size.
Baby rabbits can be adopted at around 6-8 weeks, but many rabbits are adopted much later than this. We encourage adopting a rescue rabbit from a shelter or rescue because there are plenty of bunnies in need of a home!
Rescue rabbits are typically at least six months old. This allows the shelter to spay or neuter your bun and provide them with initial veterinary care before they arrive in your home.
Of course, adopting an older rescue is just as awesome!
How Long to Flemish Giants Live?
Flemish Giants live around 8-10 years, so be prepared for this commitment before adopting one.
Flemish Giant Rabbit Grooming
Grooming your Flemish Giant bunny is a great bonding experience. It’s also a good time to check for health problems.
Your Flemish Giant should be groomed at least once a week.
- Check them out from ear to tail. Look them over and use your hands to feel for any injuries, parasites, or bites. Don’t forget to look into their ears, eyes, and to feel their skin beneath their fur.
- “Bathe” your bunny using wipes—never water. Check your bunny’s butt and feet for dirt, poop, or mats. Use a damp cloth to wipe them down if needed.
Rabbits should never be submerged in water. It causes them stress, and their fur takes a long time to dry out—increasing their risk for hypothermia.
They can also hurt themselves trying to escape the water or go into shock due to stress.
Because rabbits are self-grooming, your Flemish Giant shouldn’t require too much when it comes to “bath time,” anyway.
- Brush your rabbit to bond and reduce shed. Although this isn’t necessary for short haired buns, it’s a great way to spend time with your Flemish Giant if they enjoy it! If not, feel free to skip this step.
How to Trim Flemish Giant Rabbit Nails
You should train your Flemish Giant to accept nail trims from a young age if possible. They will need their nails trimmed at least once a month, and most rabbits don’t like the process!
- Collect your supplies—you’ll need a sharp pair of nail trimmers and your bun’s favorite treat! If they tend to struggle during nail trims, consider grabbing a towel and a helper as well.
- Before trimming, familiarize yourself with your rabbit’s feet and claws. Find the quick of the nail—it’s located at the base, nearest your bunny’s paw, and should be pink in color. This will be easier to see on light-colored rabbits.
It’s important to know where the quick is located, because it is full of blood. Cutting into it will cause your rabbit pain, make them bleed, and may traumatize them when it comes to future nail trims!
- Wrap your bun in the towel to keep them still and to help prevent them from hurting themselves. Lift them carefully into your arms.
- Trim each nail below the quick, being very careful not to cut into it. If you need to, begin by just cutting the very tip of the claw. You can always cut shorter as you gain confidence, but you cannot undo cutting too short!
If you struggle to trim your rabbit’s nails or don’t want to do it yourself, contact a groomer who works with rabbits or your bunny’s veterinarian. These professionals can trim your Flemish Giant’s nails for you.
They might also be willing to teach you how to trim your bunny’s nails at home safely.
See also: Do Rabbits Bite?
Flemish Giant Rabbit Hutch
A Flemish Giant rabbit hutch or cage is not recommended, at least not as full-time housing for your rabbit. At a minimum, your bunny should be spending most of the day outside of its cage.
The ideal situation for rabbits, particularly large ones like Flemish Giants, is to free roam inside of your home. They are indoor pets who need a lot of space and aren’t suited to many households.
These rabbits are a huge responsibility, and they aren’t pets that can simply be kept in a cage day in and day out. That would be like crating a dog for all hours of the day—something most of us agree is cruel and inhumane.
If you’d like to purchase a Flemish Giant rabbit cage for use during the night or to serve as a safe place for your rabbit when they can’t free roam, here are some quick guidelines:
- Your Flemish Giant should be able to hop several times within their enclosure and stand on their hind legs without their ears touching the top.
- Rather than a hutch or cage, consider using a tall, topless pen such as an exercise pen made for dogs. This allows you to easily see your bunny, gives them plenty of space, and you can even walk inside to hang out with your rabbit or clean up messes.
- If your bunny is housed in a crate with a metal grid at the bottom, be sure to cover it with something cushy so that their paws aren’t injured.
- Cover hard-bottomed cages or hutches with blankets or rugs so that your bunny doesn’t slip.
- Never cover a cage completely with a cage cover or blanket—this restricts air flow. The cover can suffocate your bunny or cause heat stroke by trapping in hot air.
- Make sure your bunny’s cage contains hiding places such as a hidey house, toys that they can play with, and plenty of hay and fresh water.
Another option is to designate a room to your bunny with everything they need inside. This way, you can enclose them either part-time or always!
A room of their own is plenty of space for a Flemish Giant rabbit to thrive.
How to Clean up After Your Flemish Giant Bunny
Cleaning up after a Flemish Giant can be tedious, but it’s not difficult!
- Scoop your bunny’s litterbox daily and replenish their hay.
- Sweep up any loose hay, litter, or fur daily to keep their environment clean.
- If your bunny has a cage or hutch, clean it once weekly or whenever you notice a significant mess or smell.
- Vacuum once weekly to clean up shed fur.
- Wash food and water dishes once weekly to kill any built-up bacteria.
- If your bunny has food left in their bowl at the end of the day, empty it and replenish their veggies and pellets each meal time. (Also consider feeding your rabbit less if they frequently have leftover food, or bring them to the veterinarian if they aren’t eating enough.)
How to free Roam Your Flemish Giant
The most important aspect of free-roaming your Flemish Giant rabbit is bunny-proofing your home. Do this by:
- Putting anything that can be chewed or is dangerous to your bunny (such as slippers, house plants, or cleaning supplies) out of reach.
- Covering furniture and baseboards to prevent destructive chewing.
- Tucking away or covering any cords within your bunny’s reach.
- Blocking the bottoms of any furniture that your Flemish Giant can fit underneath (unless you can also fit under to clean and retrieve your bun if necessary).
- Setting up a bunny area with food and water bowls, lots of hay, a litterbox, and some blankets or carpet so that they can do zoomies without slipping on hard floors.
- Blocking escape routes so that your Flemish Giant doesn’t have access to places they shouldn’t.
Be careful free roaming if you have cats or dogs in your home. While these animals can live together, you must be vigilant to ensure the cat or dog is properly trained and never harms the bunny.
Even a small scratch from a cat playfully batting your rabbit can lead to a deadly infection, and the same goes for dogs.
In addition, being around predators like dogs and cats can be very stressful for a bunny.
If you cannot free roam your bunny for this or other reasons, consider giving your Flemish Giant a dedicated room of the house. This will still give them much more space than they would have in a hutch or cage.
You can even let your bunny roam the house or the yard when the other pets aren’t around, such as when the dog is out for a walk or the cat is sleeping in the other room with the door closed.
Remember to never leave your Flemish Giant outside unattended.
How to Litter Train Your Flemish Giant Rabbit
The first step to litter training your rabbit is to spay or neuter them if you haven’t already. This will make the process much easier.
Spaying and neutering also comes with several health benefits and sets your Flemish Giant up for a longer, healthier life.
Like cats, litterbox training comes very naturally to rabbits. They have the natural urge to pee and poop in the same place and are tidy animals.
The easiest way to set up a safe litterbox for your Flemish Giant rabbit is to purchase a large, shallow storage bin. Line it with newspaper or buy paper pellet litter (not clay cat litter!) and add a lot of hay.
Don’t worry if your rabbit eats in their litterbox, as this is natural for them. They’ll likely even eat their own poop, which is healthy and normal.
Place the litterbox in a corner, as this is where rabbits naturally tend to poop. If your rabbit uses a different corner, simply move the litterbox to that space instead.
Praise and treat your rabbit when you see them using the litterbox to encourage good behavior! Don’t yell or punish your bunny for accidents, as this might make them avoid the litterbox even more.
If you see your bunny about to go outside the box, interrupt and usher them toward the box gently.
You might want to restrict your rabbit’s space until they are litterbox trained, slowly giving them a more open space as they get used to going in the box.
If you’re free-roaming in a large space, consider having multiple litterboxes so that your rabbit doesn’t have to go out of their way to pee or poop.
Also, be sure to clean each litterbox daily—your rabbit will begin to avoid a soiled space.
Remember, you want using the litterbox to be easy and pleasurable for your bunny so that they continue to build the habit of using it every time they go potty.
Lastly, have realistic expectations—bunnies may not be perfect at using the litterbox. They may go potty just outside of the box or have an occasional accident. This is normal and you should respond by simply cleaning up the mess.
A mat underneath the litterbox can help make this process even easier.
Can Flemish Giant Rabbits Live Outside?
No, Flemish Giant rabbits absolutely shouldn’t live outside. They are sensitive animals who face too many risks outdoors, even in a well-enclosed space.
Some threats bunnies face outdoors include:
- Hot or cold temperatures. Flemish Giants are sensitive to temperatures over 90 degrees or below freezing, and may suffer from heat stroke or hypothermia if left outside in the wrong temperatures.
- Rain. Rabbits’ coats take a long time to dry out once they get wet. If your Flemish Giant is left out in the rain, especially in cold weather, they may suffer from hypothermiaand may even die as a result.
- Predators. Even if you find a way to keep predators out of your rabbit’s enclosure, something like a stray cat pacing around the hutch will still cause your bun a lot of stress—and rabbits don’t handle stress well!
High-stress situations like this may cause your bunny to have a heart attack or go into shock, which can kill them.
- Lack of socialization. A Flemish Giant won’t die without attention—but it certainly isn’t any way for them to live! Bunnies kept outside are easier to forget about, thus they often don’t get the attention that they need from you and your family.
Rabbits are social animals. Especially if they don’t have a rabbit buddy to keep them company, living outdoors gives them a lot less of that socialization that they desperately need.
- Lack of attention. Boredom may not kill your bunny, but lack of attention actually can! Flemish Giants are sensitive creatures, and it’s important to observe them for health problems regularly.
As prey animals, they’re going to do their best to hide any illnesses—the only symptoms may be subtle things like changes in appetite or daily behavior.
If your indoor bunny starts acting weird, you’re much more likely to notice simply because you spend more time with them.
Flemish Giant Bunny Behavior and Training
Flemish Giant rabbits are known for being docile, calm pets. They tend to be gentle and sweet, loving to bond and cuddle with their human families.
They’re the size of a medium dog, but people who are used to having dogs or cats as pets might need to adapt to the differences between predator and prey animals.
As a prey animal, Flemish Giant bunnies can be easily startled. You have to be gentle with them, as rough treatment can lead to fear and aggression.
Rabbits don’t like to be picked up. They’re fragile animals, and you can easily hurt them by lifting them—especially if they struggle in your hold.
It’s even harder to pick up a giant rabbit, so avoid doing so as much as possible.
Don’t approach your rabbit from the top down, as this mimics the way prey would grab them in the wild. Instead, get down to your rabbit’s level and allow them to approach you.
Bonding with Your Flemish Giant
To bond with your Flemish Giant, first, get down to their level. This way, they won’t see you so much as a large, scary prey animal.
Don’t rush toward them, but instead sit and allow them to come to you in their own time. Use treats to reward your bunny for sitting nearby or interacting with you.
Try gently tossing treats their way if they’re very skittish, or treat them as a reward for coming up to you! Don’t try to touch them yet, but instead work up to feeding them by hand to begin building a bond.
This will teach your rabbit to associate you with good things, like their favorite foods.
If your rabbit allows, stroke them gently. Rabbits love being scratched on their heads, ears, and upper backs.
Brushing your rabbit is another great way to bond with them if they enjoy the brush. Remember to take it slow, as it may take time for your rabbit to trust you enough to allow for grooming.
Lastly, simply sitting near your bunny is a great bonding experience, whether you sit in their space, allow them to free roam, or even let them up on the couch with you!
Training Recall is Extremely Important
You want to avoid picking your Giant Flemish up whenever possible. For this reason, it’s crucial to teach them recall (or to come when called) as soon as possible.
Teach your rabbit to come to you by giving them treats when they approach, just like we discussed in the section above.
Once your rabbit trusts you, begin to call their name or say “come” and give them a treat for listening!
This way, you can get your Flemish Giant to walk on their own rather than picking them up and moving them to another location.
Carrier Training Your Flemish Giant
Another way to get your Flemish giant bunny from place to place without lifting them is to train them to go inside of a carrier.
This will be easiest if you keep the carrier around for your bunny to get used to. Placing it in their space as a hidey house is a great way to do this!
This way, they associate it with good things—not just being transported or brought to the veterinarian.
Choose a command for your bunny to enter their carrier, and practice often. Coax them inside with a treat and tell them how good they are for listening!
Carriers are perfect for trips to the veterinarian, travel, and in case you need to quickly leave home in an emergency.
How to Handle Flemish Giants
Flemish Giant rabbits are delicate, just like any other rabbit. Their bones are small and prone to breaks.
Because they are so big, it’s extra difficult to support their bodies in the way that they need to avoid injury.
These buns are also incredibly strong and may hurt themselves or you by struggling in your arms.
For this reason, it’s important not to pick them up unless it’s necessary for their health or well-being.
Your veterinarian can teach you how to pick up your Flemish Giant if needed. When lifting them, keep them as close to the ground as possible.
Support your rabbit’s back while lifting them. Start with both hands supporting your rabbit in the middle, then slide one hand down to hold their bottom.
Your rabbit’s feet should be on your torso with their head near your shoulder.
Don’t restrain your rabbit too heavily, as this could injure them. However, your grip should be firm so that your bunny can’t struggle away from you.
Flemish Giant Rabbit Veterinary Care
Your Flemish Giant should be brought to the veterinarian for a check-up at least once a year. Senior rabbits benefit from an appointment every six months.
If your rabbit ever goes outside, it will also need to be on a parasite prevention medication prescribed by your veterinarian. Do not buy store-bought medications or use cat and dog medications on your rabbit.
It’s important to give your rabbit a proper diet and enclosure so that they don’t gain too much weight or develop sore hocks.
Continental Giant Rabbit vs. Flemish Giant
Continental Giant rabbits are descendants of Flemish Giants, but they are not the same breed. The two have different body types, with Flemish Giants having a slightly curved spine and a Continental Giant having a straighter back.
Continentals are smaller than Flemish Giants and there is a maximum weight limit for the breed, unlike Flemish Giants.
Flemish Giant bunnies are a recognized breed by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA). Continental Giants are not recognized.
These bunnies also come in different color variations than one another.
Other than these differences, these two giant rabbit breeds are incredibly similar, especially when it comes to their calm temperaments.
You may also like: When Do Rabbits Stop Growing?
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