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Old 08-17-2016, 10:46 PM   #1
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Default Giant breeds as house rabbits

"I like big bunns and I cannot lie..."

When I went to the shelter to adopt my Zelda, they had New Zealand bunnies and I fell in love with their size. In Kindergarten we had a huge rabbit and I was the only kid in the class who wasn't afraid of it. As a teen I used to babysit for a family who had one who was litter box trained and roamed the house like any cat or dog. He was bigger than their dachshund. So I always wanted a nice big bunny to live as a house rabbit. The shelter wouldn't adopt a NZ to me because they didn't seem to grasp the notion of a house rabbit and said I would never have enough cage space.

So now I'm thinking of getting a giant breed soon and starting to do my homework. I'd love a Checkered if I can find one, but I also like the Flemish Giants and New Zealands. There's plenty of info on how much they weigh, what they should eat for their size, enclosure needs, vet needs etc.

But what I'd like to know is if anyone else has any experience keeping giant bunnies as house pets. What kind of enclosure do you use? How old were they when you got them? If they were raised as farm rabbits (as many are) were they hard to socialize to a home? How do you make sure they get enough exercise? Can they be walked outdoors on a harness? Do they have placid and/or affectionate personalities as stated in breed descriptions? How destructive are they? (probably the same as smaller buns but on a larger scale). Is it harder to keep their enclosure and the house clean? Has anyone tried keeping one with a smaller breed and were there bonding issues because of the size difference? Do they eat a lot? (I'm sure more than a smaller bunny). I buy hay by the bale and 50 lb. bags of pellets anyway.

Anyway, I was thinking of starting out with a large open dog crate in my hallway, with the two ends of the hallway blocked off with metal gates and the flooring covered with vinyl textured workshop flooring. It's a pretty big L shaped hallway. That would be his enclosure until he learns the litter box, then he'd be allowed out under supervision to stretch his legs in the large living area. Both my cats and dogs are fine with Zelda so I wouldn't anticipate problems with a bigger rabbit.


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Old 08-17-2016, 11:50 PM   #2
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Any size rabbit can make a great indoor rabbit. Just provide plenty of roaming space in a bunny-proofed area.

The exercise pen is a great way to go for their "home base," which is all a free range rabbit really needs. Just a place for litter, hay, food, water. The bulk of the time can be free range. If the bunny needs to spend more time confined, then you could hook two exercise pens together to create more space or make use of one wall to make the exercise pen area larger.

For bonding, even the largest rabbit can bond with the smallest rabbit. Size or breed makes no difference. The personality of the individual rabbits does make a difference. It is up to them as to whether or not they will get along. If your rabbit is fixed, it's best to let her choose her bondmate by letting her meet other fixed rabbits.

As far as socializing goes, I steer away from that word with rabbits. It has too many connotations associated with dogs or cats. Each rabbit has its own personality and that is not determined by early handling. In fact, too much early handling can make a rabbit that happens to have a more shy personality to become even more withdrawn. Rabbits that are older and neutered train easiest. They don't need to be "socialized," they just need time to get to know you and become comfortable with you.

For more ideas on housing rabbits indoors, I'd invite you to browse around my website. It is just about housing rabbits indoors and should get you started on what to expect. Click here to go to the site.

(A 9lb french lop was the largest rabbit I've had.)



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Old 08-18-2016, 12:11 AM   #3
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Quote:
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As far as socializing goes, I steer away from that word with rabbits. It has too many connotations associated with dogs or cats. Each rabbit has its own personality and that is not determined by early handling. In fact, too much early handling can make a rabbit that happens to have a more shy personality to become even more withdrawn. Rabbits that are older and neutered train easiest. They don't need to be "socialized," they just need time to get to know you and become comfortable with you.

For more ideas on housing rabbits indoors, I'd invite you to browse around my website. It is just about housing rabbits indoors and should get you started on what to expect. Click here to go to the site.

(A 9lb french lop was the largest rabbit I've had.)
Thanks for the info!

I guess "socializing" was the wrong word. What I read about these big guys is that they should be used to being handled, otherwise if you need to handle them or take them to the vets and they object, their size and strength could be a problem. So what I really meant is that they should be comfortable being handled for wellness checks etc. I'm guessing that the ones who are cage raised as meat rabbits wouldn't be as comfortable with handling as one that's raised in a home or as a pet. I'm not a huge cuddler when it comes to rabbits. I talk to them, spend time with them, stroke them or groom them, but I don't try to pick them up or cuddle them much (other than for nail clips).
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Old 08-18-2016, 03:44 AM   #4
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There are a few members that aren't really on here much anymore, that have/had large breed house rabbits. One is kmaben. She has a german giant bonded with a smaller bun, and the smaller bun was actually the boss in the relationship. You can see in one of her pictures the size difference.
http://www.rabbitsonline.net/showthr...65256&page=115

There's also PaGal that has a flemish giant.
http://www.rabbitsonline.net/showthread.php?t=73420

If you read their blogs you should be able to gather a good bit of info on what it's like to have a giant rabbit as a house pet and what these two buns personalities are like. It seems like giant rabbits tend to be pretty calm and laid back, but that's just a generalization as every rabbit is different.
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Old 08-18-2016, 05:55 PM   #5
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We have two Flemish Giants. They are still young, but other than need more space than is needed for a small breed bun, they seem to be no different.
This is what DH made for the two of them. It measures 2ftX4ftx3(ish)ft. We only keep them in it over night. During the day they get free roam of the kitchen.
The pic doesn't seem to be working. I'll try and fix. - Done.
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Old 08-18-2016, 11:20 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by deaners View Post
We have two Flemish Giants. They are still young, but other than need more space than is needed for a small breed bun, they seem to be no different.
This is what DH made for the two of them. It measures 2ftX4ftx3(ish)ft. We only keep them in it over night. During the day they get free roam of the kitchen.
The pic doesn't seem to be working. I'll try and fix. - Done.
Great CC cage! I have a very similar one built for my current two. One's a dwarf/lionhead mix about the size of a cat, the other's a teeny wee Netherland. My condo has an extra level, but they don't use the top level so I'm going to dismantle it and use the cubes to make a bigger pen (I have a pen attached to their cage, they are free to go in and out as they please).

You may ask why I'd want another rabbit for a house rabbit when I already have two. The answer is that neither of them ever want to leave their pen, even if I leave it open. If I take them out, the little guy goes off and hides and I spend the time searching for him. My bigger bunny, Zelda, bullies the cats and chases them around. She's fine with them when she's in her pen. When I adopted Zelda the shelter refused to let me adopt one of the New Zealands they had, even after I showed them the condo and pen I had built. They had this thing about only adopting large breeds to homes with fenced back yards - but were complaining to me that they were having such a hard time finding homes for them! I've wanted a big bun since Kindergarten when we had one as a "class pet", I used to sit with it "all over" my lap reading a book, while the other kids were scared of it.

My plan for the bigger one is to convert my hallway (l-shaped, goes from front hall to bathroom to bedroom) to a pen by lining it with a tarp and rubber backed dollar store mats for traction. I have two heavy steel gates with cups that screw in to the wall to make them sturdy. That will be a cage/pen for when I'm not home and at night. I work from home so I'm home most of the time. I have really good solid covers for my wiring. My current rabbits haven't been able to chew them up. I just need protectors for corners and baseboards.

I even found one at the local shelter today! She's got HUGE ears and is already spayed. I'm going to see her tomorrow.
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Old 08-18-2016, 11:57 PM   #7
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Good luck! Hope they don't give you a hard time about it being a house pet. If they do, just educate them on the fact that large breed rabbits can make wonderful house buns(as evidenced by the many owners on here that have had them).

Some additional info that I thought I would share concerning large breed buns, especially flemish. They can sometimes have additional health risks due to their bigger structure. Some of those would be joint and musculoskeletal issues, sore hocks, as well as heart problems. Not all of them will have these issues, just that they are more prone to them occurring. They also generally don't live as long as the smaller breeds. Average I think, is 6-8 years. But one good thing is many owners say they are very affectionate and friendly. I found this link with some info on giant breeds as pets. I don't think everything in it is entirely accurate, but there are several good points made.
http://www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/pdfs/...Guidelines.pdf
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Old 08-19-2016, 03:02 PM   #8
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Good luck! Hope they don't give you a hard time about it being a house pet. If they do, just educate them on the fact that large breed rabbits can make wonderful house buns(as evidenced by the many owners on here that have had them).

Some additional info that I thought I would share concerning large breed buns, especially flemish. They can sometimes have additional health risks due to their bigger structure. Some of those would be joint and musculoskeletal issues, sore hocks, as well as heart problems. Not all of them will have these issues, just that they are more prone to them occurring. They also generally don't live as long as the smaller breeds. Average I think, is 6-8 years. But one good thing is many owners say they are very affectionate and friendly. I found this link with some info on giant breeds as pets. I don't think everything in it is entirely accurate, but there are several good points made.
http://www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/pdfs/...Guidelines.pdf
Re letting me adopt as a house pet. In Toronto we have two shelters, one is operated by the city and the other, Toronto Humane Society is privately run. Each has its advantages. THS is a lot more picky about who they'll adopt to, but they offer a lot of post-adoption support and pre-adoption information. They ask for photos of your cage, and if you have an existing rabbit they will do meet and greets. When I adopted Zelda from them they gave me stacks of info about every aspect of rabbit care. They contacted me a few weeks after the adoption to make sure there were no issues. They also rehabilitate sick, injured animals and those with behavioral issues and provide low cost veterinary services. I would recommend them to a first time rabbit adopter.

Toronto Animal Services is basically the local pound. They are less picky about adopters, as long as you have the adoption fee and ID they will let you adopt. They often house adoptable animals at local pet shops like Petsmart. That's where the bunny I'm interested in is located. For rabbits I would recommend them to a more experienced adopter. Both shelters spay/neuter their rabbits.

Re health issues. I've been reading a pretty good website about Flemish Giants here: http://flemish-giant.com
They have a lot of good info on the health issues of giant rabbit breeds. I wasn't surprised to learn that giants don't live as long, the same goes for giant dog breeds. Thanks for the additional link, as far as I'm concerned I can never have too much information.

Here's her pic, I love her huge ears!
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Old 08-19-2016, 09:41 PM   #9
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Update - I went to see the big ear bunny today. She's lovely with those humongous ears - but sadly the ears were the only big part of her. She's not even as big as Zelda.

None of the shelters have Flemish or any other large breed. I'll keep my eye open for new arrivals, but also look at the local livestock ads. There are a number of Flemish or NZ breeders who sell baby and young rabbits. The problem there is I'd have to get them neutered and I know vets tend to charge more for a larger pet (at least with dogs).
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Old 08-19-2016, 09:44 PM   #10
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We wanted a big bun for our house pet too. We went to a breeder who handles the babies and breeds for temperament. He brought her home as soon as she was old enough. She has a crate but we also fixed an unused room into a room for her. We decided not to take her outside ever because of the risk of disease. We let her into the hallway when we wake up in the morning. The hallway is closed off by pet gates. Every evening we let her into the living room for a romp. She loves to play tag. That hour of excersize does the trick because she is nearly underweight at 16 pounds. She is solid muscle, unlike the fat blobs you see in photos of Flemish Giants. She is a super pet!


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