The giant chinchilla isn't the largest breed of rabbit, but it's close. Flemish giants and a few others don't stipulate a maximum weight in the breed standard. The giant chinchilla is the only breed in the United States judged primarily for its commercial value for meat production at official rabbit shows, according to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Although it's a meat breed, the giant chinchilla's gentle, friendly nature also makes it a good pet.
Chinchilla rabbits come in three sizes: standard, American and giant. At maturity, giant chinchilla male rabbits weigh between 12 to 15 pounds, while females are somewhat larger, at 13 to 16 pounds. Breed standards do not permit rabbits over these maximum weights. As the breed association notes, these are "giant" rabbits compared to the size of the standard and American chinchilla.
The giant chinchilla is also valued for its pelt, the same color as the South American rodent for which the rabbit is named. These large slate gray or blue-toned rabbits boast a flyback coat -- if you pet the fur backwards, it immediately "flys back" into position. Although the rabbit is large, the body shouldn't appear excessively long, but more of a medium length. Giant chinchillas have a semi-arched appearance, typical of the bigger breeds. This means they have high hips and low shoulders.
Giant chinchillas produce large litters, even by rabbit standards. Most does are very good mothers. While this breed requires a great deal of timothy or grass hay, it does not consume larger amounts of commercial rabbit pellets than smaller breeds. By the time the kits are 8 weeks old, they're ready to go on to their new homes. By then they weigh between 5 and 6 pounds, already the size of a standard rabbit.
The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, which works to conserve rare livestock breeds, includes the giant chinchilla on its conservation priority list. It determines which breeds belong on the list based on the number of animals registered with the particular breed association. ln the case of the giant chinchilla, that information comes from the Giant Chinchilla Rabbit Association.
- Giant Chinchilla Rabbit Association: The Million Dollar Rabbit
- American Livestock Breeds Conservancy: Giant Chinchilla Rabbit
- Rabbit Breeders: Giant Chinchilla Rabbits
- West Coast Chinchilla Rabbit Breeders Association: A Brief History of Each Chinchilla Rabbit Breed
- Rabbit Breeders: Types of Rabbits
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.