The big, lovable Giant Chinchilla is one of three breeds of chinchilla rabbit that is accepted by the ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders' Association.) 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 Breed Originated
The silvery chinchilla rabbit was originally bred in France for its meat and fur and was introduced in the United States in 1919. 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 are 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.
According to the Giant Chinchilla Rabbit Association:
- Fully grown bucks should weigh a minimum of 12 pounds, with females (does) weighing about 1 to 2 pounds heavier than males (bucks). Babies grow fast, and by the time a Giant Chinchilla approaches maturity, there's no mistaking her 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 top coat should show distinctive rings when it's lifted up (or petted backwards), since each hair shaft contains five distinct bands of color in a pattern of blue, pearl, black, white, and black.
The Giant Chinchilla has a special reputation as a loveable lay-about, an easygoing fellow who doesn't need much exercise, just a comfortable place to lounge and 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 ten.
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 that it's typically not necessary to bathe a rabbit, and it can be dangerous for the animal since 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 her socialized.
- Keep your rabbit's nails trimmed.
- Keep an eye on general health indicators like self-grooming habits and interest in food. Your rabbit's coat should always be soft and glossy, her eyes should be bright. Her head, while it slopes downward naturally instead of standing erect, should still be alert. Her nose should never run, and her ears shouldn't droop.
Giant Chinchilla rabbits are hardy and generally resistant to disease. They can live for up to 8 or 9 years if properly cared for. This means plenty of clean water and a varied diet that includes hay, pellets, and occasional fresh greens. Make sure your rabbit has plenty of space; cages should ideally be at least six feet long for full grown Giant Chinchillas. 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.
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.