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About Flemish Giant Rabbits


Basic Care:

  • Food – rabbits need a pellet diet with about 16-18% protein in addition to timothy or orchard grass hay. We currently feed Country Spirit brand rabbit pellets (we buy them at Family Farm and Home), with 16% protein. Rabbits should have access to hay at all times; it is important for digestion and maintaining teeth. As long as you have good pellets, these two things along with clean, fresh water are the only things your rabbit NEEDS in his or her diet, everything else is extra.
    • Some people like to feed vegetables as well, we generally use them like treats on an occasional basis. Before giving your rabbit ANYTHING, always check to make sure it something safe for them to eat. It’s a good idea to wait to start introducing vegetables into the diet until the rabbit is at least 6 months old. However, dandelions are a great treat, even for babies!!
  • Indoors vs Outdoors – Flemish Giants can be good indoor or outdoor pets. Our Flemish are all outdoors year-round. There are some special considerations when keeping your Flemish outdoors:
    • People always seem to be concerned with rabbits being outdoors in the winter, asking me, “Don’t they get cold? Should I get a heat lamp? Do I need to bring them inside?”. The answer to all of those questions is NO. Rabbits do just fine in cold temperatures, they have a nice fur coat! It is the heat that can be very dangerous!

    • Outdoors
      • As long as you have a place for your Flemish to be protected from the elements (wind and rain), they will do just fine outside in the winter. Our hutches have an enclosed area where they can go to stay warm and dry. I usually pack that area with straw in the winter, and even then I find the bunnies spend most of their time in the open area of their hutches.
      • If you plan to have your rabbit outside for any prolonged periods of time during the winter, it’s important that they be adjusted to being out in the cold. Your rabbit will develop his winter coat based on the temperatures he is exposed to, so if you have him or her inside in November and December, don’t put him outside in January to bear the cold when you haven’t given him the opportunity to grow in a warm coat. Inside bunnies should stay inside bunnies during the winter.
      • Heat lamps are NOT necessary for big breeds like Flemish. I have had people tell me they have used heat lamps for their Holland Lops, etc…that’s great for smaller bunnies but Flemish do not need them and in fact they can put the rabbit at risk for overheating. I do not even use heat lamps for my newborn kits in the winter. As long as mom makes a good nest in the enclosed area of the hutch and covers them with her fur, they do just fine.
      • Freezing temperatures – the main concern for rabbits in the winter is access to water. We use metal dog bowls for water, the larger it is, the slower it freezes. I do not recommend water bottles because the tiny spout freezes within minutes once there is water in it. The metal bowls seem to last a few hours at least, and they are nice because the ice falls right out of the bowls with a little tapping on the ground and can be filled right back up again. I don’t have to worry about “thawing” bowls in warm water or anything like that.
      • Hot temperatures – summer is the most dangerous season for rabbits because they cannot tolerate temperatures above 80 degrees. They cannot pant like dogs, the only way they regulate temperature is through the blood vessels in their ears. This makes them prone to heat stroke in the summer. Here are a few things you can do to keep them cool:
        • Make sure they have shade. Never put your rabbits in direct sunlight that they cannot escape from.
        • Good ventilation is key. Our hutches have wire sides and bottoms allowing for good air flow. The enclosed areas still have wire bottoms to allow some air movement in the summer, otherwise that area becomes like a sauna. Fans can also be used to help with good air flow.
        • Cold water should be available at all times. Besides their ears, this is the only other way rabbits can keep cool.
        • We also freeze 2-liter bottles filled with water and give them to the rabbits to lay against in the summer. Some days they only stay frozen for a few hours, so have multiple ready! Start saving them now! You can also freeze ceramic tiles and put them in the cages for them to lay on.
        • When I go out to change ice bottles in the summer, I also just lightly mist the backs of the rabbits’ ears. The evaporation off their ears helps carry away heat and cool those ear vessels, which in turn helps cool their blood and the rest of their body.
    • Indoors
      • Can I litterbox train my rabbit? The answer is YES! Rabbits are very smart, and most of them like to go to the bathroom in a designated spot, so they are usually very easy to litterbox train. In fact, I even litter box train my rabbits in their hutches, just because it makes for much easier cleaning. Just make a designated box and whenever they go to the bathroom outside the box, move those droppings into the box. Eventually they will figure out that’s where the droppings belong!

      • What do I use for litter?
        • NEVER use cat litter for rabbits – it is toxic and can kill them.
        • We use a large cat sized litter box with pure pine pellets, which are great for absorbing urine and masking the smell and then I usually throw a light layer of large pine shavings on top. Rabbits seem to like to have something soft to go on. Note: This is why you may not want to put hay on the floor of your rabbit’s cage, there are hay mounts you can get to keep them from using their hay as litter.

      • Cages - Rabbits are just like puppies or babies in the sense that they should not get free reign of your house unsupervised. They need to have some kind of enclosure, like a cage or crate, a safe area where they can go to get away and where you can be sure they won’t get into trouble when you can’t be watching them. Flemish Giants are the largest breed of rabbit. Average weight for a Flemish is about 13-17 lbs for bucks and 14-18 lbs for does, but they can get larger. So, their cage should be at least 3ft x 4ft and it should be tall enough that they have room to be able to stand on their hind legs. An extra large dog crate works great, you can even fit the litter box in there, and I like the removable plastic pan for easy cleaning. A round exercise pen works too, just make sure it’s at least 36 inches tall, otherwise they can jump out! If you let them have free reign all the time, they are going to be more difficult to litterbox train, and are at risk for eating things they shouldn’t like chewing furniture or electrical cords.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask us! We want the best for our buns!

 
 
 
 
 
 

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