The big, lovable Giant Chinchilla rabbit is one of three breeds of chinchilla rabbits that is accepted by the American Rabbit Breeders' Association (ARBA). All three breeds make great family pets, but the Giant Chinchilla in particular, if handled carefully, can become a calm, well-adjusted member of any family menagerie.
Where the Giant Chinchilla Rabbit Breed Originated
The silvery chinchilla bunny was originally bred in France for its meat and fur, and the French version was introduced in the United States in 1919. The American Giant Chinchilla was developed in 1921 by a man named Edward Stahl from Holmes Park, Missouri.
Stahl predicted the breed would be a hit in the American fur business, but its small size would restrict its viability. While other breeders in the industry focused on increasing the weight of the American Chinchilla Rabbit, Stahl wanted to create a "Giant Chinchilla." Stahl began experimenting in the basement at home and determined a cross between the White Flemish Rabbit and American Blue Rabbit would offer good coloring as they grew larger, and crossbreeding this selection would begin. In 1921, on Christmas morning, a Chinchilla doe Stahl considered to be the masterpiece of hard work was born. The doe was dubbed the "Million Dollar Princess."
Over the next few years, distinct lines were drawn between the Standard Chinchilla (the smallest of the three), the American or Heavyweight Chinchilla, and the Giant Chinchilla Rabbit. All three breeds are hardy and stocky, but their sizes vary widely. The unmistakable bulk of the Giant Chinchilla has arisen from crossbreeding between the Chinchilla and the Flemish Giant in early efforts to produce a large rabbit for meat.
Appearance of the Giant Chinchilla Bunny
According to the Giant Chinchilla Rabbit Association:
- When young, the Giant Chinchilla grows quickly, weighing between 5 to 6 pounds at 8 weeks and 7 to 9 pounds at 12 weeks.
- Fully grown bucks should weigh a minimum of 12 pounds, with does weighing about 1 to 2 pounds heavier than bucks. Babies grow fast, and by the time a Giant Chinchilla approaches maturity, there's no mistaking their presence in a room.
- They should have straight, erect ears.
- They should possess powerful legs and feet.
- They should have a soft, white underbelly. The silvery topcoat should show distinctive rings when it's lifted up (or petted backward) since each hair shaft contains five distinct bands of color in a pattern of blue, pearl, black, white, and black.
Giant Chinchilla Rabbits Temperament and Behavior
The Giant Chinchilla has a special reputation as a loveable lay-about, an easygoing fellow who doesn't require much exercise, who just needs a comfortable place to lounge and receive plenty of love and attention. Giant Chinchillas enjoy being handled if they're gently socialized from an early age.
Giant Chinchillas can be very tame, and females make loving, attentive mothers, but don't expect a rabbit to be as outgoing as a dog or cat, and make sure your rabbit can make an easy escape from the poking and prodding hands of little children. Some breed experts recommend Giant Chinchillas for adult households or those with children over the age of 10.
Grooming Needs of the Chinchilla Rabbit
The short, straight, soft fur of the chinchilla doesn't require much regular grooming. The hairs are dense, but Giant Chinchillas don't shed much more than any other house pet. It's important to note it's typically not necessary to bathe a rabbit, and it can be dangerous for the animal because it can be easily stressed or injured during the process.
To keep your pet in good condition:
- Run a soft brush over your rabbit's coat every few days to control excess hair and keep them socialized.
- Keep your rabbit's nails trimmed.
- Keep an eye on general health indicators such as self-grooming habits and interest in food. Your rabbit's coat should always be soft and glossy, and their eyes should be bright. Their head, while it slopes downward naturally instead of standing erect, should still be alert. Their nose should never run, and ears shouldn't droop.
- Examine your rabbit's ears for signs of ear mites and check their mouth at least once every other week to ensure sure their teeth are the right size.
Giant Chinchilla Living Requirements
Giant Chinchilla rabbits are hardy and generally resistant to disease. They can live for up to 8 or 9 years if properly cared for. Make sure your rabbit has plenty of space; cages should ideally be at least 6 feet long for full-grown Giant Chinchillas.
Since sores frequently develop when rabbits lay on a wire-bottom cage for too long, enclosures should be constructed with wire and have a solid bottom made from plastic or metal. The bottom should be lined with hay (horse hay is OK), and it should be spot-cleaned for feces every day and thoroughly cleaned at the end of each week. These rabbits can be kept indoors or outdoors, but make sure that outdoor cages are not only protected from the elements (sun and rain), but also have adequate draft to keep them cool in hot weather. Bring them indoors when the weather gets too hot or cold.
Pay close attention to safety; while they aren't as vulnerable to household accidents as smaller rabbits, they can still get into trouble. Try to rabbit-proof your home before letting your Giant Chinchilla wander around freely.
Giant Chinchilla Rabbit Diet
Giant Chinchillas eat the same type of diet as other rabbit breeds, which consist of hay, pellets and fresh herbs and veggies. They should have hay available to chew on at all times as well as fresh, clean water. Adult rabbits should be fed a half cup of pellets per day for every 6 pounds of weight, whereas babies should be offered as many pellets as they are willing to eat until about one year of age. Fresh fruits and veggies can be fed daily based on your rabbit's weight. Follow a rate of 2 cups of veggies and a maximum of 2 ounces of fruit per 6 pounds of body weight.
Buying Giant Chinchilla Rabbits
If you have your heart set on buying a Giant Chinchilla rabbit, a good place to start is the breeder directory on the Giant Chinchilla Rabbit Association website and the Livestock Conservancy website. You can also find them up for adoption through shelters and rescue groups via websites such as Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet. The House Rabbit Society also maintains a list of rabbit rescue groups by state. The average sale price for a Giant Chinchilla ranges from $40 to $100 or more. You'll need to factor in the cost for care, including:
- a hutch or cage for a larger size rabbit ($75 and up for a cage and $130 and up for a hutch)
- food, though despite their size, Giant Chinchilla Rabbits don't tend to eat more pellets than regular rabbits. A 25 lb. bag of Kaytee Rabbit pellets is approximately $53 and a large breed rabbit requires one-half to one cup per day.
- Timothy hay for your rabbit at all times. A 10-pound bag of Small Pet Select Timothy Hay is about $30 and will last about two months for one rabbit.
You'll also need toys, cage dishes and water bottles and grooming supplies with costs depending on which items you decide to purchase, plus the number of bunnies and the size of your cage or hutch.
Choosing a Rabbit as a Pet
Before you choose a rabbit as a family pet, it's a good idea to consider the history of the breed, its typical temperament, and any special grooming and health needs that you may need to take into account. Just like dogs and cats, rabbits are heavily influenced by genetics. The breed you choose can affect everything about your new pet, from nutritional needs to life expectancy.