So, you’ve decided you want a new pet that really turns heads, and for all the right reasons! Enter: The continental giant rabbit.
Think you know your Flemish giant rabbit from your German? Maybe it’s time to brush up on that knowledge!
Of course, even if you know nothing of these rabbits, the name itself offers a rather, um, large clue as to what you’re going to get:
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A brief history of the continental giant rabbit
The continental giant rabbit has origins dating back to the 16th Century (although it was first recorded in the later 19th Century). They’re descendants of the Flemish giant, and the name ‘continental giant’ is actually an umbrella term for a number of different breeds from all over the world, who all share the same characteristic: being rather gargantuan! Although nowadays, Flemish giants tend to be the most common, and the most popular humungous rabbit breed.
In fact, giant rabbit breeds from different countries are known for having key characteristics that define them. For example, German giant rabbits are recognized as having larger heads and rounded ears, while Flemish giant rabbits are notable for their narrow ears and (kind of) violin-shaped bodies. The Flemish giants are also known to be the largest and have the kindest temperament.
So, rabbit lovers close your ears: These rabbit breeds (or Flemish giants, as they were at the time) were originally bred for meat. Of course, it figures; the bigger the animal, the more juicy meat it’ll have on its bones! Fortunately, for the squeamish amongst us, these rabbits are now primarily kept as house pets. Phew.
Are Continental giant rabbits friendly?
If you’ve been on the lookout for a friendly, amenable pet, a continental giant rabbit (or ‘Conti’ as they’re often lovingly called) could be the perfect choice:
They’re actually known in the rabbit world as being one of the most dependent breeds of rabbit, and they’ll happily live alongside you in your house, as a house rabbit. Of course, this means your new rabbit will require lots of love, hugs, and human interaction.
These rabbits are widely considered to be gentle giants. They’re as straightforward to train as any puppy, and will actually come when you call out their name! Like rabbits in general, they’re known to be highly intelligent (probably not quite sodoku-playing level, but you get the idea), and very gentle.
In particular, the Flemish giant rabbit is thought to be particularly calm and benevolent. If your new rabbit takes a shine to you, you may even find yourself lumped with him or her nestling on your lap while you watch TV! Pet-human love, at its best.
How much are continental giant rabbits?
When you’re on the search for a continental giant rabbit to join your household, it’s super important that you trust the person you’re buying from. If at all possible, insist on a completed, signed pedigree. Good giant rabbit breeders will often offer health guarantees (within reason) and ensure you take your new furry friend for a comprehensive check-up at your local veterinarian to make sure everything’s tip-top.
The main thing to remember is: If it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Appropriate breed standards and animal care cost money, and if a breeder is willing to offer you a continental giant rabbit at a cut-down price, you can safely assume something’s not quite right…
So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of prices:
In the USA, you can expect to pay between $300 and $500 for a continental giant rabbit. Giant rabbit breeders typically have a long waiting list, so if you’ve decided to buy one, it’s best to get on that list as quickly as possible. And even then, you may not meet your robust new pal for a year or so.
Patience is absolutely key, and the limited supply of continental giant rabbits does mean they’re in high demand. The long wait can also be a good thing, to put off those who are not totally committed to welcoming a new rabbit into their lives.
And the rest…
Remember that the price of your new rabbit will not typically include transportation and delivery. Of course, you can always take a scenic road trip to go and pick up your new family member, but this may not be possible, depending on where the rabbit breeder is located. So, 9 times out 10, you’re going have to have your continental giant rabbit delivered, or hand-dropped.
Expect to pay anywhere between $125 and $600 for transportation or Breeder Delivery. Sending a giant rabbit is not like sending a letter! So, the total price of purchasing a continental giant rabbit is roughly around the $450 to $1000 mark. And that’s not including their food, medicines, bed, and care. In fact, the estimated costs for caring for a continental rabbit is around $150.00 per year. No, continental giants are not cheap.
Tip: RabbitPedia is a fabulous place to seek out registered, trustworthy rabbit breedersacross the US.
How long do giant rabbits live?
So, unlike regular sized pet rabbits, who can expect to live for 8-12 years (although their lifespan is a meager 1-2 years in the wild!), the giant continental rabbit has an average lifespan of 4-5 years.
This is largely dependant on their level of care, health, and happiness. It’s also extremely important to remember that most continental giant rabbits in the United States are related in some way or another. It’s very dangerous for the animals if you decide to interbreed two giant rabbits, only to find out that they’re brother and sister (or even cousins!).
Inbreeding can lead to a myriad of health issues, including a reduction in size, and problems with immunity. The message here kids is: Don’t breed continental giants unless you’re absolutely certain that there’s no relation.
How big is a continental rabbit?
Okay, let’s start by saying the biggest continental giant rabbit on record was 4 feet 4 inches long, and pretty impressive 53 lb in weight. That doesn’t mean that all continental giants will get quite that large, but it’s certainly good to know the scope!
Realistically, unless you accidentally stumble upon a supersized specimen, you can expect your rabbit to reach roughly 3 feet in length, with a weight of around 16 to 18 lb. No, it won’t fit in a regular rabbit hutch. Think more… Dog crate.
How many breeds of giant bunnies are there?
The types of rabbits we’ve discusses here have been primarily the continental giants, which as we mentioned, is an umbrella term for super-large breeds of rabbits such as Flemish giants, German giants, and Spanish giants.
Although the American Rabbit Breeders Association does not yet recognize many giant breeds as an official category (however they do recognize the Flemish giant rabbit, and in 7 varieties, no less!) the British Rabbit Council does. The giant breeds (a breed of rabbit which typically weighs over 11 lb) recognized by the BRC are:
- Flemish giant rabbit
- French Lop
- New Zealand White
- Belgian Hare
- English Lop
How to care for them
Whether you’ve got yourself a Flemish giant or a Belgian one, a rare Spanish breed or a German giant, you’re going to need to know the basics of how to care for him or her:
Of course, it’s only natural that a rabbit of this size will demand a little more love and care than its smaller cousins.
Cages and bedding
With these rabbit breeds, you can literally never go to big. Really, if you’re opting for a cage rather than an open rabbit-bed, try to supersize it as much as you can. Your giant breed needs to be able to fully stand up, stretch out while laying down, and move freely around the cage- think roughly the size of a large dog crate. It doesn’t need to take up your whole living room, but space is an important thing to think about when you’re considering buying one of these rabbit breeds.
This rabbit breed tends to place a lot of weight on its paws, so it’s super important that you make sure the bottom of the cage is padded out with straw, sawdust, or hay.
The main staple in any conti’s diet is hay. You should aim to feed your conti a pile of hay which is roughly its actual size, twice daily. Yep, it sounds like a lot, but remember how large they are! Their diet can be supplemented with pellets too, which are a great source of protein.
Of course, make sure your bunny has easy access to water at all times!
So, how much do you want a giant bunny now?!
We’ve gone through the basics of owning and caring for a continental giant bunny, but the amount of care and attention they require cannot be overestimated. Your pet is a lifelong commitment (well, at least 4-5 years), and that commitment should not be taken lightly.
That said; if you’ve already mulled over the why’s and why not’s, then happy hopping to you!