Basic feeding instructions and which foods are healthy and unhealthy for your bunny.
A Flemish Giant's average lifespan, weight, and standard breeding colors
Daily observance of your bunnies poop is critical to the health of your jumping ball of fur.
Traditional herbs and weeds that will help your Giant Flemish, live a long happy life.
A Big Bunny will require a Big living space. Be sure you can accommodate all of his needs.
Rabbit Diet: What to Feed a Bunny
What should pet bunnies eat? Contrary to popular belief, rabbits need to eat more than just carrots
and lettuce. They require a balanced diet of hay, fresh veggies and fruit, and a few pellets. Rabbits
have very sensitive digestive tracts, so the transition to hay or pellets, or the introduction of new
fruits and vegetables, must be done gradually to allow the rabbit’s system to adjust.
Hay: The staple of a rabbit’s diet
The bottom of a rabbit food pyramid would contain long-stemmed fiber, in the form of hay, which
makes up 80 to 90 percent of a rabbit’s diet. As grazing animals, rabbits need to have an unlimited
supply of fresh hay daily.
You’ll want to feed your rabbit grass hays. Good types of grass hay for bunnies are timothy, orchard
grass, brome and oat hay. You can feed your bunnies either one type or a mixture of different grass
hays. Buy the freshest hay possible and check for the presence of mold or dust, which could make
your rabbit sick.
Alfalfa hay is not a good choice for an adult rabbit, since it’s a legume, not a grass, and as such is
too rich to be fed on a daily basis. Alfalfa can be given to rabbits once in awhile as a treat. Rabbits
under one year of age can be fed alfalfa hay, but as they get older they should be switched to grass
hay, especially if they are also being fed alfalfa pellets.
Pellets: Feed bunny small quantities
Timothy hay pellets can be given to bunnies in small quantities. An average-sized (6-10 pounds) adult rabbit only needs one-quarter cup of pellets daily. If your rabbit is under five pounds, feed just one-eighth of a cup. Rabbits larger than 10 pounds do not need more than a quarter of a cup, since it’s not a crucial part of a bunny’s diet.
Rabbits under one year old can be fed alfalfa pellets. Be sure to feed grass hay (rather than alfalfa) if you are feeding your young rabbit alfalfa pellets. Look for pellets with a high fiber content — the higher the better. Do not buy the rabbit pellets that have dried corn, nuts and seeds added, because those foods can potentially be very harmful for rabbits.
Vegetables: A rabbit’s favorite foods
Rabbits count vegetables and herbs among their favorite foods. Most greens found in a supermarket are safe for rabbits, with a few limitations and exceptions. (See the list of foods to avoid below.)
No more than two cups daily of fresh vegetables should be given to adult rabbits. Dwarf breeds and rabbits under five pounds should get just one cup of fresh veggies per day. A variety of two or three vegetables is ideal. Add one new vegetable at a time, and watch for signs of loose stool or diarrhea
because, as mentioned above, bunnies have delicate digestive systems. Certain vegetables can be given every day, while others should be fed sparingly, one or two times a week. Do not feed your rabbit potatoes, corn, beans, seeds or nuts.
These foods are difficult for rabbits to digest and can cause serious digestive problems.
Vegetables that can be fed to a rabbit daily:
Vegetables and plants to give sparingly (one or two times a week) to a bunny:
Fruit: Give to a bunny once or twice per week
Fruit should be given to your bunny one or two times a week. The appropriate serving is one to two
tablespoons of fruit (either one kind or a mixture) per five pounds of body weight. As with vegetables, fruit should be introduced slowly and one at a time.
Fruit to feed your rabbit (one or two times a week):
Treats: Feed to a rabbit sparingly
Like lots of people, many rabbits have a sweet tooth. As with humans, treats are at the top of the food pyramid for bunnies and therefore should be fed sparingly. Healthy treats for your bunny include small pieces of fresh or freeze-dried fruit (the approved fruits listed above); natural, unprocessed mixes that include hay and dried flowers (the approved flowers listed above); and Oxbow brand rabbit treats.
Always read the ingredient list on store-bought treats because not all of them are safe for bunnies. Avoid treats that include added sugar, preservatives and artificial coloring, and never give your rabbit human treats.
Foods to avoid giving a rabbit
Some foods are not good for rabbits under any circumstances because they can make rabbits extremely sick.
Here are foods to avoid giving your bunny completely:
Fresh water: Unlimited supply for a bunny
Finally, rabbits need to stay hydrated, so they should have an unlimited supply of fresh water, which
should be changed daily. The water container should be cleaned with soap and water every few
days. Water bottles are not easy to clean and can be difficult for rabbits to use, so bowls are better.
A heavy ceramic bowl is ideal, since it doesn’t tip over easily.
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Weight: 14+ pounds
Lifespan: 5-7 years
Body Type: Semi-arch
Temperament: Docile, affectionate, somewhat playful
Suitable for: Experienced rabbit owners, & people with a lot of room for bunnies to run around
The first standards for the breed were written in 1893. The Flemish Giant is an ancestor of many rabbit breeds all over the world, one of which is the Belgian Hare, imported into England in the mid 19th century. The Flemish Giant was exported from England and Belgium to America in the early 1890s to help improve the size of meat rabbits during the great "rabbit boom".
It received little attention until about 1910 where it started appearing at small livestock shows throughout the country. Today, it is one of the more popular breeds at rabbit shows because of its unusually large size and its varying colors. It is promoted by the National Federation of Flemish Giant Rabbit Breeders, which was formed in 1915. The Flemish Giant has many nicknames, first and foremost the "Gentle Giant" for its uniquely docile personality and also the "universal rabbit" for its varied purposes as pet, show, breeding, meat and fur animal.
The Flemish Giant despite its large size, are a recommended rabbit breed for first-time owners, as they are relatively low maintenance and have sweet personalities. This also makes them great pets for singles, couples and families with children of any age. Because they are so large, children should not attempt to pick this rabbit up but instead play with them while they are on the ground (which means stroking their fur, nuzzling them, petting them, etc).
A great advantage with this breed being so large is that some owners have found that dog harnesses for medium-sized dog breeds fit this rabbit well. There are some who enjoy taking their rabbit out in the back/front yard on the harness, and if your yard is not fenced, putting your rabbit on a leash is a great idea. Be sure to slowly introduce the harness and reward them when they have made progress. Like other rabbit breeds, their personalities will also flourish when given some toys they can chew and play with. This can include balls, rabbit-safe wooden blocks and toys. Rabbits do not generally become upset or possessive over toys, so having children play with their toys while they are around should not be a problem, especially because Flemish Giants are so well-mannered
The American Rabbit Breed Association (ARBA) standard recognized seven different colors for this breed: Black, Blue, Fawn, Sandy, Light gray, Steel Gray, and White.[
A rabbit's poop can tell you a great deal about the health of that rabbit. That is why owners obsess over the size, quantity and quality of their rabbits' poop. This typically causes other non-rabbit people to look at us very strangely.
A healthy rabbit will produce on average 200-300 hard pellets a day. These hard, round pellets are what you see in the litter box (or maybe the floor). They are dry, odorless and range from light to dark brown in color. You should be able see bits of hay in them and the pellets should crumble easily with some pressure from your fingers.
Rabbits also produce something called cecotropes. Technically, these are not feces as they are not a waste product. Cecotropes are flat, round and dark brown soft poops clustered together into what looks a lot like a blackberry. They are smelly and will squish rather than crumble. Cecotropes are produced in the cecum where billions of bacteria have fermented all of the digestible plant material into a tidy bundle packed full of nutrients. The mucus coat allows rabbits to re-ingest these cecotropes straight from the anus. This is how rabbits get all the nutrients they can from their diets.
Typically, the owner rarely sees cecotropes unless the rabbit produces more than they can consume. This may happen if the rabbit is fed too many pellets, treats or rich greens in his diet or if the rabbit is unable to reach down and consume them (ex. severe arthritis or obesity).
Abnormal rabbit poop gives you a clue as to what the problem is and how it can be handled. Some problems may indicate an adjustment in the diet, while others signal the need for immediate veterinarian help.
Small, miss-shaped rabbit poop indicates dehydration and a lack of fiber. You can increase hydration by offering wet veggies and/or increasing fluids (either syringe-feed extra water or administer sub-cutaneous fluids). Increase fiber by offering more hay and fewer treats and pellets.
There are a couple of situations in which small poop is OK. When a rabbit comes out of stasis, the first poops will be small and miss-shaped. This is perfectly normal and a good sign, as it means the rabbit is recovering. Within a day or two, his poop will return to normal.
Older rabbits - especially those that have mobility issues - may produce smaller poop. This again is not necessarily a crisis, since the digestive system (along with other internal systems) are slowing down due to age. At this point, the diet for seniors may start to have more calories and less fiber to help keep weight up. Owners definitely need to help keep their bunnies hydrated and still offer plenty of fresh hay. As long as your senior keeps up the amount of poop, he is doing fine.
This poop is linked together by fur. The digestive system is working just fine as the fur is being pushed out along with the other fiber. It just might be time to give your bunny a good brushing.
Most people mistake soft rabbit poop for diarrhea. True diarrhea is quite rare in rabbits, especially healthy adults. You see it more often in young rabbits, particularly those transitioning from weaning. Diarrhea will be very watery.
Soft poop is uneaten cecotropes. It's the result of an imbalance in the diet. Usually, the rabbit has consumed too many treats and/or pellets. Some rich vegetables, such as kale, dandelion greens, carrot tops and chard, may also cause excess cecotropes. If your bunny constantly has a dirty butt, look at the diet. If you feed out kale daily, maybe cut that down to once or twice a week.
Every rabbit is an individual. Certain rabbits may be intolerant of all lettuces or all herbs or all fruit. If you find yourself with a bunny who constantly produces soft poop, you need to eliminate rich vegetables, treats and/or pellets from his diet to help get his gut back into balance. Speak to your vet about how best to re-balance your bunny's digestive system.
Diarrhea in rabbits is another matter, that is most likely caused by a bacterial or parasitic infection. The poop will look extremely watery. A rabbit with diarrhea needs immediate medical attention.
Contact your veterinarian immediately.
Mucus can be seen on both the poop and paper towel.
This will look like a blob of clear jelly on some poop. I have usually seen this in older rabbits, but it can happen at any age. It's the result of irritation in the gut and can be caused by antibiotics, oral pain or anything that may cause slow or intermittent intestinal contractions. It's very common for bunnies when they come out of GI stasis or for older rabbits with chronic dental issues.
Megacolon is a genetic abnormality that affects the intestines, cecum and the nerves controlling muscle contractions in the digestive system. It commonly affects bi or tri-colored spotted rabbits, although it's not breed specific and the condition worsens with age.
Megacolon poops are large oval or oblong in shape and have much more water content than poops from a normal healthy rabbit. This is different from diarrhea. The poops will still retain their shape, but if you squeeze one, water will come out. Cecotropes tend to be long, tarry and almost sausage in shape, with a strong odor.
A megacolon bunny can still have a healthy life, but the owner must be vigilant for any sign of a gut slow down. The bunny may need to be on daily medication for pain relief, prokinetic (gut motility) and fluids (can be oral or via subcutaneous). The diet needs to be tailored specifically to this bunny to ensure proper gut function.
PLEASE NOTE THAT HERBS SHOULD BE USED WITH CAUTION AND NOT AS A REPLACEMENT FOR PROPER
VETERINARY CARE. IF YOU SUSPECT THAT YOUR SMALL HERBIVORE MAY BE ILL, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR VETERINARIAN.
While dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is one of the world’s most common weeds, it is also one of the most astonishing
healing plants. Use for blood purifying, respiratory ailments, anti-inflammatory, bladder infections, diarrhea, milk flow of
nursing does and it is a good treat for does after having a litter.
Devils Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is native to Africa. Use for arthritis, joint disorder, muscle stiffness and
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurascens) immune system stimulant and broad-spectrum antibiotic. In the lower doses, it acts
as a stimulant and in higher doses acts as an antibiotic. It is anti-inflammatory with anti-viral properties.
A good herb for digestion. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) treats bloating, gas and stimulates milk flow for nursing does.
Delicious and healthy treat, hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha) stimulates appetite and aids digestion. It is a source of
numerous vitamins and minerals, contain a significant amount of bioflavonoids that enhance the absorption of vitamin C.
One of the most valued and safest heart and vascular tonics.
Nettle (Urtica dioica) is a common, ancient weed with profound healing properties. One of the richest sources of
chlorophyll in the vegetable kingdom. Excellent forage being rich in iron, lime, sodium and chlorine. Nettle hay is
particularly valuable to rabbits as food, especially for convalescent stock.
It is a preventative against many contagious ailments, also a worm preventative. Increases milk yield. Also aids poor
As well as being high in protein and iron, nettles are said to be useful in cases of poor elimination such as eczema,
rheumatism and arthritis. Nettles have an extremely high calcium level and a good Ca:P (Calcium to Phosphorus) ratio.
Nettles are a good source of silica which can help keep the rabbit and guinea pigs fur and bones in good condition.
Increases milk flow in nursing does.
Very good tonic herb. Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) enriches the blood and treats urinary problems. Roots are used for
constipation and obstruction of the intestines. Good for the cure of inflammation of bladder and kidneys, digestive
disorders, fertility in bucks, and productivity in does.
(Plantago major – Greater plantain with flat rosette of leaves)
(Plantago lanceolata – Ribwort plantain with spear-shaped and upright leaves)
Plantain is a common weed that is found throughout South Africa. Antimicrobial, antispasmodic, healing of cuts,
respiratory expectorant, fevers. Great as a safe introduction of young kits to greens, works great for diarrhea. Leaves
soothe urinary tract infections and irritations. Good for gastric inflammations and regulates the functions of the
When it comes to keeping your Flemish Giant Indoors or Outdoors, it will be your personal preference. The Flemish Giant will thrive in both conditions as long as he is protected from varying elements. All enclosures regardless of location should have a minimum of 25sq. ft (5'x5' pen).
Outdoor Enclosures: An outdoor enclosure will need these important features.
Indoor Enclosures: An indoor enclosure will share some of the same features as an outdoor with some exceptions. Key features of an indoor enclosure would be.