Oryctologus cuniculusFlemish Giant Rabbit

Family

  • Leporidae

Lifespan

  • 6-9 years

Size

  • Length: 16-22 inches

  • Weight: 10-30 pounds, males being larger

Origin

  • This breed originates from the Dutch/Flanders region in Europe

Habitat

  • Grasslands and open woodlands

Diet

  • Wild: Succulent plant matter

  • Zoo: Purina rabbit chow, greens, produce, and hay

Reproduction

  • After a gestation of 28- 33 days, a litter of 4-8 kits are born inside the burrow or nest site.  One wild female rabbit may have up to 6 litters a year, but normally only 10-12 kits survive from each female every year.  Rabbits and hares exhibit induced ovulation (the female will not ovulate until she has mated), and postpartum estrus, increasing the likelihood to conceive.

Special adaptationsFlemish Giant Rabbit

  • Large ears help draw body heat away from the core, preventing over-heating during warm months

  • Large hind feet provide rabbits with a very powerful kick, which they can use as a defense mechanism, or to power large jumps when escaping predators

  • Rabbits, and many other lagomorphs, practice ‘coprophagy’ or the behavior of consuming fecal matter.  This benefits them by adding bacteria to the digestive tract to aid in the breakdown of plant matter.

  • Rabbits have eyes on the sides of their head, allowing them an almost 360° view

Facts/info

  • This large breed prefers cool temperatures, often lying stretched out in snow banks

  • Rabbits will “thump” with their back feet to communicate to other rabbits when danger is present

  • Rabbits live in large social units and dig an immense tunnel system, called a warren, if allowed

  • Lagomorphs possess a ‘peg tooth’ – a second pair of small incisors which lack a cutting edge found directly behind the large front incisors

  • Rabbits and hares are commonly thought to be rodents, but are in fact classified in a separate family

Conservation status

  • As a domestic breed, the Flemish Giant is not under threat

  • There are 3 species of wild rabbit and 6 species of hare under concern with IUCN

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices.  Accessed December 2012.  www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species.  Accessed December 2012.  www.iucnredlist.org 
  3. Burnie, David and Don E. Wilson. Smithsonian Institution Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife. New York, New York. DK Publishing, Inc. 2001
  4. Paddy Petterson, Katja Schulz. Eds. "Oryctolagus cuniculus (Linnaeus, 1758)". Encyclopedia of Life http://www.eol.org/pages/327977. Accessed 24 Jan 2010.