If you love butterflies and want a bunny with butterfly markings, then you need to learn about the Giant Papillon rabbit.
The Giant Papillon rabbit, or Giant French Butterfly rabbit, was bred in France in the 19th century. The rabbit is named after the distinctive butterfly markings all over its body. The Giant Papillon bunny was originally bred for meat production.
Ready to learn more about the history of the Giant Papillon bunny, what it looks like, and how you can take care of it?
What Is a Giant Papillon Rabbit?
It isn’t clear whether the Giant Papillon rabbit breed is extinct as some sources claim, or whether the breed is still flourishing.
One thing is clear—there isn’t a lot of information on the Giant Papillon rabbits, and many people confuse the Giant Papillon bunny with the Checkered Giant.
In fact, the Checkered Giant rabbit and the Giant Papillon rabbit are NOT one and the same, though they are related.
The Giant Papillon rabbit is a giant-size rabbit breed that weighs more than 10 pounds. They have an average life expectancy of 4-7 years.
Related rabbit breeds are the Flemish Giant rabbit and (not surprisingly) the Checkered Giant.
Giant Papillon Rabbit History and Origin
The Giant Papillon rabbit hails from the Lorraine region in France. Toward the end of the 19th century, rabbit breeders crossbred large French lop-eared rabbits with spotted rabbits and Flemish Giant rabbits.
Initially, the Giant Papillon rabbit, known as Great Lorrainese rabbits in France, had multi-colored or a wild-colored fur coat. Further breeding produced the distinctive “butterfly” markings on the Giant Papillon rabbit, which made the rabbit popular.
At the start of the 20th century, Giant Papillon rabbits were imported into the United States. These bunnies became known as Checkered Giant rabbits; however, they were bred to be different from the Giant Papillon.
Some rabbit breeders and fanciers believe that the Checkered Giant rabbit and German Giant Spotted rabbit are simply other names for the Giant Papillon rabbit.
Since the Checkered Giant and German Giant Spotted look very much like the same rabbit, it’s not clear whether the Giant Papillon breed is extinct or simply known under other names.
Giant Papillon Rabbit Characteristics
What are the physical and personality features of the Giant Papillon rabbit breed? Let’s find out.
This giant-rabbit breed is predisposed to be quite docile and relaxed. Giant Papillon rabbits enjoy napping but they are an active breed that needs lots of exercise and playtime.
However, they can also be quite territorial. They aren’t afraid to fight to settle an argument with a fellow bunny.
When they aren’t territorial, the Giant Papillons are friendly.
Body Shape and Coat
As one of the largest breeds of rabbits, the Giant Papillon rabbit has a full-arch body shape. This means the rabbit’s back arches from their neck all the way down to their tail. When these rabbits pose standing up, there’s more depth to their body than width.
The body of the Giant Papillon bunny is muscular, yet slender. Their long hind legs are powerful and they have rounded hindquarters.
The head of the Giant Papillon rabbit is wide, and their broad, large ears stand upright.
The Giant Papillon rabbit’s coat is soft.
The markings on the Giant Papillon rabbit are distinctive and characteristic of the breed. If the Giant Papillon rabbit has a white fur coat, there’ll be a butterfly-shaped marking on its nose, ears, spine, tail, and hips.
A Giant Papillon rabbit’s ears are colored. There are also rings around their eyes to look like eyeliner and flashes on their cheeks.
A dorsal stripe or herringbone starts at their ears and runs all the way down their spine to their tails. There are also various spots on the Giant Papillon rabbit’s haunches.
Breeding a Giant Papillon rabbit that has the right markings is challenging. More than half of the kits in a litter will have good, distinctive markings, but the other kits will be self-colored (when the coat is one color) or they will be partially marked.
If the Giant Papillon kit has partial markings, they are called “Charlies.” It’s thought that the term “Charlie” comes from the fact that the partial butterfly marking on the rabbit’s nose resembles Charlie Chaplin’s mustache.
The Giant Papillon rabbit breed comes in a variety of colors:
Giant Papillon Rabbit Care
The care guidelines for the Giant Papillon rabbit would be similar to those of the Checkered Giant rabbit since these rabbits are related and possibly one and the same.
Handling the Giant Papillon Rabbit
The Giant Papillon bunny is a really large and heavy rabbit, so when you need to handle such a rabbit, do so properly and carefully.
Because they are so gigantic in size (for a rabbit anyway), it might feel uncomfortable holding such a rabbit in your arms. Your bun will also pick up on your insecurity and worry, so they can struggle when you try to pick them up or hold them.
The rabbit may also feel unsafe and uncomfortable.
Plus, the rabbit can get hurt if they fall out of your arms, or if they are scared and panicked, they can lash out – bite you, kick you, or scratch you with their sharp claws.
So take care when you need to handle the Giant Papillon rabbit or other giant rabbit breeds.
Make sure your hold is secure and hold the rabbit with their back to your chest, with an arm underneath their bottom to support their weak spine and an arm underneath their front legs for further support.
Giant Papillon Rabbit Enclosure and Exercise Pen
No matter what sized rabbit you have, the rabbit enclosure where your bun sleeps, eats, drinks, potties, and plays should be large enough for them to be comfortable in the space and not feel squashed.
When in doubt, rather opt for a bigger space for your bun than a smaller one.
Together with the rabbit enclosure – which can be a hutch, cage, or other setups – get an exercise pen or rabbit run. This should be at least 3 times bigger than the living enclosure for your rabbit.
The exercise pen is where your rabbit exercises to meet their physical requirements to be healthy. It is also where your rabbit can play with rabbit-friendly toys to keep them entertained.
Giant rabbits like the Giant Papillon should preferably stay outside. However, you can keep these rabbits inside if you have sufficient space. The Giant Papillon rabbit shouldn’t be kept in a small apartment or small house.
If you keep your Giant Papillon rabbit outside, ensure the enclosure is weatherproof to protect your bun from the elements. A rabbit shouldn’t overheat, nor should a rabbit’s fur get soaked when it rains.
A bunny can easily catch a chill if its fur is wet, especially if there’s a cold wind. Your rabbit can get hypothermia, and this could potentially be fatal.
The outdoor rabbit hutch should also be predator-proof. Snakes, wolves, owls, hawks, and various other predators prey on rabbits, so make sure these animals can’t get into your yard.
There should be nothing in your yard to attract these wild animals. The rabbit hutch should be sturdy so no predator can get in either.
Keeping a rabbit indoors means that the rooms in your house your bunny have access to should be rabbit-proof. This is to keep your belongings and your fluffy-eared bestie safe.
Giant Papillon Rabbit Diet
A healthy and balanced diet ensures your rabbit thrives. A rabbit diet is generally comprised of:
- 80% good-quality grass hay, like Timothy hay for adult rabbits and Alfalfa hay for young bunnies
- 10% leafy green vegetables and herbs
- 5% pellets
- 0-5% treats – vegetables with a high sugar content and fruit
- Fresh drinking water
Giant Papillon Rabbit Health
Like all rabbits, there are certain things to look out for to ensure your rabbit doesn’t get sick or suffer from injury or health complications.
A rabbit’s teeth never stop growing, and overgrown teeth can lead to a wide variety of dental issues. If your rabbit doesn’t constantly eat, its digestive system slows down, leading to GI stasis and other serious issues like malnutrition and death.
A rabbit’s nails should also be kept short as overgrown rabbit nails can lead to injury and joint issues when your bun isn’t well balanced.
Also, regularly check your bun’s ears for mites.
Breeding Giant Papillon Rabbit
The Giant Papillon rabbit was originally bred for meat production. The breed’s giant-size body means that there is a lot of meat.
If the breed isn’t extinct, they are bred to be pet rabbits these days.
Giant Papillon Rabbit Price
No information regarding the price of a Giant Papillon is available, but a Checkered Giant rabbit costs between $50 and $80.
My Last Bunny Thoughts
If the Giant Papillon rabbit is truly extinct, it’s a shame but at least the rabbit lives on in the Checkered Giant rabbit – a relative of the Giant Papillon that’s very similar in looks.
If you are fortunate to be the owner of a giant rabbit, take care of these bunnies so you can enjoy their friendship for at least 7 years.