Rabbit Breed Facts Giant Papillon

That gorgeous, large rabbit with the unique markings might just be a Giant Papillon, also known as the Checkered Giant. The Giant Papillon, in scientific circles, goes by the name of Oryctologus cuniculus and originated in Reinflaz, Germany. One source states Otto Reinhardt bred a Reinish Checker Rabbit to a black Flemish Giant Rabbit with modern Giant Papillons tracing back to this pairing. Another theory is that wild rabbits also featured in the Giant Papillon’s origins.

There are some differences between European and American Checkered Giants. Those bred in America tend to be long, smooth and racy more like Belgian Hares. They are not as heavy as the European Checkered Giant. The Giant Papillon is one of 45 breeds recognised by the American Rabbit Breeders Association. The Giant Papillon is considered a show rabbit and is one of only 11 breeds with whose markings are specifically defined.

Despite their great size they are not particularly suited to commercial use. A very heavy pelt, heavy bones and a slowness to mature (which means they will breed at an older age) make them less attractive as a commercial proposition than some other breeds.

The Giant Papillon weighs 13 to 14 pounds and is always white with black or blue markings. Only the Giant Chinchilla and the Flemish Giant are bigger. The Giant Papillon has a more elegant build than the Flemish Giant.

The standard states ‘medium to medium-heavy bones. Those over 17 or 18 pounds are said to be ‘bad boned’. The head should measure nearly six inches or more. Ear length should be at least 5 inches.

The shiny, dense coat should be about an inch long. The markings may be blue or black but need to be clear and easy to see. There should be a butterfly shape spot on the nose, circles around the eyes, spots on the cheeks and marks on the back and sides. The ears should also be dark. The coloured fur is shorter.

Their larger size means bigger cages and more feed if they are to thrive and live happy rabbit lives. Cage size needs to be a minimum of 3 feet by 5 feet with a height of 2 feet. If the cage has a wire base, provide a solid area so the rabbit can get off the wire if he wishes. This will avoid damage to his feet. He will also appreciate a box so he can hide from the outside world if he wants to.

Hay or straw is a better bedding material than pine shavings which can irritate the eyes. Hay or straw also provides extra fibre. Avoid a hay that is too high in protein such as alfalfa (lucerne). And, of course, they love fresh vegetables

The Giant Papillon is slow to mature and slow to reach sexual maturity. They start breeding at twelve to eighteen months old. Gestation is normally 30 to 34 days and litters range from eleven to fourteen kittens. Give the doe three or four days to get her nest box ready and provide hay for the nest material. When the babies are born check on the doe and kittens. Remove any dead kittens, touch all the rest so they all have the same smell. If dead kittens are not removed, the mother will eat them and may not know when to stop! It is believed any baby smelling the same as the dead one (maybe from lying next to it) will be eaten.

Giant Papillons have a lifespan of around eight years. They generally make good pets. The bucks are less territorial than the does but both should be handled regularly if they are to remain tame and easy to handle. They are calm with general with amenable temperaments.