Other name: German Giant Rabbit
Scientific name: Oryctolagus cuniculus
Country / Place of origin: Europe
The Continental Giant Rabbit (also known
as the German Giant Rabbit), is said to have originated
in Belgium in the 19th century. The Continental Giant
is an accepted breed with the British Rabbit Council,
and comes in a white, or a coloured coat.
Appearance: The Continental Giant is a very large rabbit that has a long body with a slightly arched back, well-rounded hindquarters, large thick ears (close to a fourth of the body length), and big bright eyes. The fur is dense and shiny with long guard hairs and a thick and soft undercoat. The recognized colors of the Continental Giant are white (with pink or blue eyes), agouti, black, dark steel, light steel, and opal.
Average weight: 14 - 22 lbs.
Lifespan: 5 - 10 years
Grooming: Continental Giants require simple brushing at least once a week to remove loose and excess fur and prevent matting of the coat. Rabbits naturally groom each other by licking the ears, nose, top of the head, and around the eyes.
Diet: Like other rabbits, Continental Giant Rabbits are herbivorous. The main ingredient of their diet is hay, preferably Timothy grass hay, which is rich in the fiber needed to prevent diarrhea, obesity, and hairballs is often recommended. Leafy vegetables, though also essential to a rabbit’s health, should be given sparingly to prevent digestive disorders. For variety, treats may be given (although occasionally because of potentially high starch or sugar content) such as carrots, peaches, plum, apples, papaya, pears, strawberries, and other fruits. Commercial rabbit pellets also add nutrients to the daily diet. Fresh water should always be available, either from a sipper bottle or in a stable water bowl.
Housing: Continental Giant Rabbits can be kept indoors to protect them from extreme temperatures, predators, and other outdoor dangers. They should be allowed to roam and exercise, preferably where they can get sunlight and fresh air. Extension hutches, exercise pens or lawn enclosures are recommended for safe outdoor exposure.If kept in a cage, it is best to house them in a home built cage, as shop cages are just not big enough. The cage should be large enough that the rabbit can stand on its hind legs without its ears touching the roof of the cage, It should be at least 10 ft long as a full grown Continental Giant can reach between 3 ft and 4 ft.. Continental Giants can jump up to 2 meters high, and they are very good burrowers and will chew out of a run if the wire gauge is too big. It is therefore suggested that a specially made run is built with a roof of mesh 2cm x 1cm gauge, 3 to 4ft high by 8ft x 8ft minimum room. The floor of the cage should also be meshed. A hide box or sleeping quarters should be provided for times when the rabbit needs to hide or sleep in private. Baby toys and interesting items should also be available for entertainment. The Continental Giant needs plenty of exercise outdoors as they can easily become obese due to their size and appetite. Rabbits can be taught to use a litter box. To avoid health hazards caused by toxic wood shavings or clumping kitty litter, only organic litter should be used such as paper, citrus, or wood pulp. The Continental Giant can be allowed to roam inside the house as long as the areas where they are free to explore are “rabbit-proofed” for safety. If your garden is secure with a 6ft fence and has no flower borders and only a few cats as predators, then the Continental Giant could run free when you are around and be trained to return to bed with food at dinner times. Continental Giants will stand up to and warn off trespassing cats. They do tend to get along with family cats thou
Health issues: Like other small mammals, Continental Giant Rabbits can be susceptible to colds and viral infections. Exposure to draft, sudden changes in temperature and stress can lower the rabbit’s resistance to sickness. Rabbits are also vulnerable to conjunctivitis (a bacterial infection of the eyelids caused by smoke, dust, and fumes) and ear mites. Intestinal ailments like coccidiosis (parasites propagated by unsanitary conditions), bloat, and hairball obstructions are also common in rabbits.
Behavior / Temperament / Activity level: Continental Giant Rabbits are calm, friendly, and social, getting along with other domesticated pets like cats, dogs, and guinea pigs. They are best kept in pairs or trios but preferably one per cage to minimize injury from occasional infighting. They are most active at sunset and at daybreak. Because they are very large, timid, easily stressed, and physically fragile, they are not recommended as pets for small children.