By Gabriela Garcia Guzman
Puebla, Mexico, Mar 27 (EFE).- A student at a university in the central Mexican state of Puebla has used genetic techniques to create a new, larger variant of the Flemish Giant, already regarded as the largest breed of rabbit.
Flemish Giants can weight anywhere from 6 kg (13.2 lbs) to 10 kg (22 lbs) and exist in a range of colors, including black, blue, fawn, sandy and various shades of gray, as well as white.
And the longest Flemish Giant on record, at least until now, measured 1.3 m (4 ft 3 in).
Kiro Yakin, 21, who is studying veterinary medicine and zootechnics at the Xicotepec campus of Benemerita Autonomous University of Puebla (BUAP), told Efe that his quest to engineer a new species of rabbit grew out of a project assigned as part of his coursework.
“This species of Flemish is the largest in Mexico and the world,” he said.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Flemish Giant is a curve that extends from behind the shoulders to the base of the tail, a configuration that results in the rabbit’s having more muscle than fat, Yakin said.
Though Flemish Giants have long been bred for meat and fur, Yakin points out that because they are sedentary and don’t hop, they can be kept as house pets.
He began by crossing a long-bodied Flemish Giant with medium-sized ears with a more robustly built rabbits whose ears were longer.
The result was a larger bunny with longer prominent ears and a shinier coat.
“They don’t look so big, because they curl up in a ball, which is a characteristic of rabbits. For that reason the weight is the dimension that most attracts attention,” Yakin said.
The student said that another reason for his interest in rabbits is the novelty factor, as most veterinarians spend their working lives caring for dogs and cats.
While Yakin dreams of having a large, professional rabbit-breeding farm, for the moment, it is a boutique operation driven by special orders. EFE