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The Real Giant Rabbits That Inspired Peter Jackson For "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

Yes, these giant rabbits really do exist, and yes, you can have one in your house if you want it. Plus: exclusive video!

1. In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the wizard Radagast the Brown rides on a sleigh pulled by giant “Rhosgobel Rabbits” — creatures that were very much not in J.R.R. Tolkein’s beloved book.

Warner Bros. & New Line Cinema

2. In this exclusive clip from the extended edition Blu-ray for the film (out Nov. 5), director and co-screenwriter Peter Jackson reveals that these fantasy rabbits are based on quite real giant rabbits that exist in real life and are real.

Warner Bros. Pictures & New Line Cinema

3. The most common breed of giant rabbit is called the Flemish Giant, and they’ve actually been around since roughly the 16th century.

flickr.com/tjflex/2950361234/ / Creative Commons

They were initially bred in Belgium for meat and fur, but eventually, their flopsy adorableness became too overpowering.

Source: The Maryland Zoo

4. By 1893, Flemish Giants became a standardized domesticated breed for pets as well.

flickr.com/anomieus/2912690917/ / Creative Commons

It was around this time that they were also imported from Europe to the United States.

Source: The Maryland Zoo

5. They weigh on average about 15 pounds but they can grow as big as 22 pounds for males, and 20 pounds for females.

flickr.com/58638411@N00/8670620572/ / Creative Commons

They can also grow up to 2.5 feet in length.

Source: The Maryland Zoo

6. According to the National Federation of Flemish Giant Rabbit Breeders — yes, that is a real thing — the Flemish Giant is recognized to come in seven varieties (or colors).

flickr.com/58638411@N00/4409693289/ / Creative Commons

They are black, blue, fawn (light yellowish brown), light gray, sandy, steel gray, and white.

Source: The NFFGRB

7. Depending on the breeder, Flemish Giants can run from roughly $50 up to $250.

flickr.com/58638411@N00/3267919291/ / Creative Commons

8. Considered to be docile and gentle, they can make for excellent pets.

flickr.com/mr_t_in_dc/2913998722/ / Creative Commons

They can even be litter box trained.

Source: The Maryland Zoo

9. Their lifespan runs from just 5–10 years, though, so be sure to soak up the rabbit-y goodness, because it won’t last long.

flickr.com/romers/4618969415/ / Creative Commons

That much cuteness is just not long for this world.

Sources: Double L Rabbit Ranch & The Maryland Zoo

10. This is what they look like at a few months old.

flickr.com/58638411@N00/6262667019/ / Creative Commons

TOO MUCH CUTENESS!

11. This is what they look like as newborns.

flickr.com/58638411@N00/3089506393/ / Creative Commons

STOP. IT.

12. There are also rabbit “shows” — like dog shows — throughout the country.

flickr.com/58638411@N00/8439325105/ / Creative Commons

13. And the world of giant rabbit breeders is, evidently, quite competitive.

There are also British Continental Giants, Grey German Giants, and Spanish (or Valenciano) Giant Rabbits.

14. Bizarrely, the photos of giant rabbits Jackson and his team found online appear to have been altered — not of the giant rabbit, but of the man holding the giant rabbit.

The real photo

Sean Gallup / Getty Images

The doctored photo

Warner Bros. & New Line Cinema

 

It would appear the prestige of owning a giant rabbit is so irresistible that some guy apparently felt it necessary to trick people into thinking he was the one holding it.

Because who doesn’t want a photo of themselves holding a giant rabbit?

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