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The Flemish Giant is a rabbit breed which is known for its unusually large size. Flemish Giants are believed to be the largest of the living rabbit breeds, often growing to be 15 pounds (seven kilograms) or more in size. They are widely bred and kept as pets and meat animals around the world, and some unusually large specimens have made their way into the papers, thanks to their impressive size.
Several breeds of rabbit are considered “extra-large” by breeders, including the Checkered Giant and British Giant, but the Flemish Giant appears to be consistently larger than other breeds. It is believed that the breed originated in South America, and that a few representative rabbits were brought back to Europe with early explorers. These rabbits were bred with other European rabbits, especially in Flanders, and by the 1800s, the rabbits of Flanders were famous for their size.
Many people like to keep Flemish Giants as pets, but the breed was originally developed to serve as a source of food. Obviously, the larger the rabbit, the higher the yield of meat would be, and since rabbits are relatively easy to breed, handle, and care for, they make an appealing meat animal. By the mid-1800s, Flemish Giants were being widely exported to other parts of Europe such as Britain so that breeders could take advantage of their unusual size. These rabbits continue to be bred for meat production in many parts of Europe and Asia.
Although originally bred for meat, the Flemish Giant also makes a good pet. These rabbits are known for being extremely gentle and relatively sedate, although they can fight back if they feel threatened. Some Flemish Giant owners report that in addition to getting along with the humans in their households, the rabbits also get along with other pets. They do require more food than other rabbit breeds, and they can be quite destructive to a home which hasn't been rabbit-proofed properly.
The Flemish Giant breed comes in a range of colors including white, fawn, gray, black, and blue. Rabbits with colors recognized by breeding associations can be expensive, especially if they have pedigreed parents, but it is also possible to find mixed breeds or non-pedigreed Flemish Giants which have all the traits of their papered cousins without the high cost.