Europe is the continent in the name of the continental giant rabbit, and the name can be applied to a variety of recognized rabbit breeds from several different countries. The classic continental giant white rabbit got its start in Germany, where it was bred for meat. Similar trends in other nearby countries resulted in Flemish and Spanish giant rabbits. A related breed from France is known as harlequin rabbits, but these are smaller crosses with wild strains.
Continental giant rabbits are a large family of European domestic bunnies that are set off by their large size, soft fur, and a wide variety of coloration and patterns. These domestic shorthairs are relatively low-maintenance animals with nice personalities and a high tolerance for children and fellow pets. First bred in the 1800s for its meat, the continental giant rabbit is now one of the most popular rabbit pets in the world.
Calm and curious, friendly and peaceful, continental giant rabbits make great pets for most people. If you have a spot where you can set up a warren and a litter box, you probably have half of what you need to keep your contie happy and healthy for its entire 5-9 year lifespan. Food bills are light with conties, and they only need marginal attention and exercise. They're great at home if you leave for work.
If you already have pets in the house, you might wonder how well a continental giant rabbit will fit in. As a rule, these bunnies get along well with peaceful fellow pets. Most dogs, for example, can happily live with conties if they can also put up with cats in the house. These giant rabbits are generally too big for most cats to bully, and their sweet disposition makes for some fast friendships anyway.
You can set up a rabbit hutch in almost any space that's big enough to hold it, as long as it's quiet and not too hot or cold. If your continental giant rabbit is able to get out of the hutch and move around for several hours a day, then apartments make perfectly acceptable places for them to live. Getting outdoors can be a challenge for apartment rabbits, but noise complaints from neighbors won't happen.
Conties are generally friendly and inquisitive rabbits who like to meet people and who will play with humans who treat them with respect. The large size of fully grown continental giant rabbits makes them a little difficult for small children to pick up and handle properly, but with supervision and instruction, most children get along great with their family's continental giant rabbits.
Continental giant rabbits eat much the same food as other domestic rabbit breeds. Hay is a decent staple for them, but they also love fresh leafy vegetables like lettuce and cabbage. Contrary to the wisdom of cartoons, domestic rabbits are not exceptionally fond of carrots, though conties will eat julienned carrot sticks when those are available. Always make sure your contie has fresh, clean water since rabbits have a low tolerance for grime.
Rabbits in the wild will usually get about 3 miles of running in every day. Conties are bigger and more domestic than that, but they could still use around 3 hours of solid moving-around time outdoors daily. If you can't manage a daily trip to the garden, consider setting up an indoor play area where your continental giant rabbit can explore tunnels and boxes and where there are plenty of interesting toys.
Continental giant rabbits are fairly fastidious about their living spaces, and you probably don't have to worry much about messes. With enough patience, you can even train them to use a litter box, which is a great help for keeping their hutches clean and dropping-free. Rabbits do occasionally have to chew and swallow their own fecal pellets, which are mostly hay, so don't be too quick to whisk them away every day.
Conties have short, dense coats that don't take a lot of work to keep healthy. Your bunny will probably do most of the needed grooming without help, but if they're getting knots, you can probably brush them once a week. Shedding is minimal with these breeds, and very few people report allergy problems with loose dander. If you have other pets, occasionally check your bunny's skin for fleas and keep sleeping areas clean.
All domestic rabbits are prone to malocclusion, which is a misalignment of the teeth that can cause problems over time. Check in with a pet dentist to make sure this isn't an issue for your contie. Some rabbits get GI blocks, which can stop their digestive system. Your vet can treat this if it's caught in time, so keep regular appointments. Finally, many domestic bunnies get ear mites, which can be treated with antiparasite medicine.
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