French Lop

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French Lop is a popular breed of domestic rabbit that was first developed in France in the 19th century out of selective breeding between the English Lop and the Flemish Giant.[1] The French Lop differs from the English in that it is characterized by a heavier stature and shorter ears. The French Lop weighs in at around four and a half kilograms and has an average lifespan of five years or more.

A French lop rabbit

History[edit]

The French Lop Rabbit was first bred in France around 1850 and established in France as a rabbit for meat during the mid-19th century.[2] It is believed to have been produced by crossing two existing breeds, the English Lop and the Butterfly Rabbit of France. The Butterfly Rabbit is still bred in France and can be seen at the Grand Prix Show in Paris. This rabbit closely resembles our Flemish Giant of today, but is shorter in body length and weighs approximately 15 pounds. The French Lop increased in popularity in neighbouring countries such as Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. In 1933, it was reported that ten French Lop Rabbits were brought over from the Netherlands and exhibited in the UK,[2] although it was not until the 1960s that French Lop Rabbits became a popular mainstream rabbit breed in the UK. French Lop Rabbits were imported into the USA in 1970-1971.[2]

Appearance[edit]

The French Lop is a very large rabbit, weighing at least 11 lbs. with lop ears of between 5 to 8 inches long that hang down below the jaw, and an almost cubic appearance with a short thickset body and large head. The front legs are short and straight and the hind legs are carried parallel to the body. The French Lop has a dense, soft coat that comes in two color varieties: solid and broken, and within these categories can be found a number of different rabbit colors, including agouti, black, broken marked, chinchilla and sooty-fawn.

Breeding[edit]

The ideal age for the female French Lop rabbit to start breeding is 9 months. It is recommended that they should not have any more litters after the age of three years. The French Lop rabbit can produce large litters, usually between 5 and 12 with a gestation period of between 28 and 31 days. On average they give birth at 30–32 days. They are very good pets.

Behavior[edit]

Due to their relatively larger size in comparison to other breeds, the French Lop may require a large hutch/run to move around freely. They fare well in both outdoor and indoor cages but keep in mind they are still rabbits and not dogs; they will chew and they are hard to litter-box train. They are known to have a placid and relaxed temperament, and can tolerate other species. When socialized well at a young age they are a wonderful family pet, and are very gentle with children. However, French Lops are not for the first-time rabbit owner because they are very large and can be hard to handle. They have very strong back legs, and can cause injury without meaning to, so care should be taken.

You can give a French lop rabbit a companion rabbit, but it is not considered acceptable to house them or any other breed of rabbit with a different species (such as a guinea pig) due to the risk of injury, and a difference in dietary need. Rabbits are highly social animals and should always be kept with a companion [1] - however care should be taken when introducing them as adults. Neutered rabbits will be less likely to fight - male-female pairs tend to be strongest. Like all rabbits, they may go through a "teenager" stage, where they are reaching sexual maturity and might become aggressive. It's less common in the French Lops though than other breeds.

Lifestyle[edit]

A French Lop is able to live outside and inside; a large waterproof hutch that shelters the rabbit from any rain, snow, or heat is acceptable with a run attached. French Lops do not handle heat well, so make sure they have adequate protection like a frozen water bottle or a fan. If kept inside, a hutch or a cage can be used. It is infinitely preferable to keep rabbits in pairs - you should only ever consider getting a single rabbit if you can spend several hours a day with them. The rabbits should have a large run for exercise and mental stimulation - lack of exercise can contribute to obesity, gut stasis and behavioural issues.

Diet[edit]

Like the majority of rabbits, the most important component of the diet of a French Lop rabbit is hay, a roughage that reduces the chance of blockages and malocclusion whilst providing indigestible fiber necessary to keep the gut moving. Grass hays such as timothy are generally preferred over legume hays like clover and alfalfa. Legume hays are higher in protein, calories, and calcium, which in excess can cause kidney stones and loose stool. This type of hay should be reserved for young kits or lactating does.

It is recommended that the French Lop receive a standard intake of a high quality, high protein pellet. It is common for some owners to provide treats, although in very limited quantities, which can include a few pellets, a slice of strawberry, or other healthy foods. Commercial treats are available in the pet stores in shops and can be occasionally used, although even more sparingly, since they typically feature a higher sugar and starch content.

Some of the vegetables that rabbits enjoy are romaine lettuce, escarole, turnips, collard, kale, parsley, thyme, cilantro, dandelion, and basil. The green, leafy tops of radish and carrots also are excellent sources of nutrients—more than the vegetable itself. New vegetables should be introduced slowly due to the delicate digestive systems of rabbits. It is recommended that cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage be avoided, as they cause gas and can lead to gastrointestinal stasis, which can be fatal. Vegetables such as potatoes and corn should also avoided due to their high starch content. French Lops also require an unlimited amount of fresh water, usually provided for in a water crock, tip-proof ceramic pet dish, or hanging water bottle.

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