Should I Neuter my Rabbit?
Ronnie (my awesome pet rabbit) likes to pee on the couch.
His routine is this:
- He jumps onto the couch.
- The little monkey gets onto my leg and climbs up me, to go over my shoulder.
- He perches himself on the back of the couch with a glint of trouble in his eyes.
But sometimes, it’s just a fake-out and he doesn’t actually pee straight away. Sometimes he’ll just mooch around and lick the side of my face or make his way to the arm of the chair and lick my arm.
But every once in a while, he’ll stare directly at me, poke his bum out and pee.
Then the mad scramble begins, as my wife and I jump into action to:
- Get him off the couch.
- To wipe up the pee before it stains.
- Tell him off for being a naughty boy.
He’s trying to send a message: he’s the boss and this is his territory.
But when I grab him and put him in his cage afterwards, he doesn’t much look like the boss. After my wife has shouted at him, I bet he doesn’t much feel like the boss either (I feel his pain on that one).
I always thought Ronnie eventually grow out of it, but will he? If so, when? Because my couch can’t take much more abuse (he’s also bitten two holes in the cushions).
I needed to know, so I thought I’d investigate. I wanted to get to the bottom of why he was doing it and more importantly, how to stop him from destroying my couch.
The more I looked into it, the more terms like “Neutering” and “Spaying” came up and each time it did, it made me wince a little.
It became obvious what I needed to do if I wanted to stop Ronnie’s couch graffiti.
The question became: should I neuter my rabbit?
- 1 What is Spaying / Neutering?
- 2 What are the benefits of Neutering my rabbit?
- 3 Myths about Neutering.
- 4 When should I Neuter my rabbit?
- 5 I’ve decided to Neuter My Rabbit, what should I do next?
- 6 What do I need to do after the operation?
- 7 What should I do if I have two rabbits?
- 8 Should I Neuter my Rabbit?
- 9 Sources
What is Spaying / Neutering?
Firstly, what exactly are we talking about here? What is spaying? What is neutering? Are they different things? What do they mean?
Let me explain.
Spaying refers to the removal of a female rabbit’s uterus and ovaries.
Neutering refers to the removal of a male rabbit’s testicles and scrotal sacs.
However, it can be argued neutering and spaying are the same thing as by definition, neutering means the removal of reproductive organs, regardless of sex.
Perhaps now you can understand why I winced a little bit when I started investigating this?
What are the benefits of Neutering my rabbit?
There are a good number of benefits in a general sense and individually, for both males and females.
If you’re looking for answers to the question should I neuter my rabbit? you may want to check out the rather large list of benefits listed below.
General benefits of neutering/spaying include:
- Rabbits are healthier and live longer.
- They are calmer and are more loving and dependable, because the urge to mate has been removed.
- Rabbits are less prone to destructive behaviour.
- They are less prone to aggressive behaviour.
- Rabbits are easier to litter train.
- Their pellets and urine have less odor.
- Rabbits can safely be bonded without the threat of hundreds of baby rabbits as a result.
- Rabbits of the same sex can better co-habit without fighting.
Benefits for Male Rabbits
Benefits for male rabbits include:
- Reduces sexual aggression.
- Stops spraying behaviour i.e. it will stop Ronnie from peeing down the back of the couch.
- Reduces and eliminates risks of testicular and prostrate cancer’s.
Benefits for Female Rabbits
Benefits for female rabbits include:
- Eliminates or greatly reduces risk of getting reproductive cancers.
- Prevents the onset of stressful pseudo pregnancy.
So now that we know the benefits, are there any drawbacks to getting your rabbit neutered or spaying?
From everything I’ve read so far, the answer would have to be no.
But there are a couple of negative myths about neutering that you need to know the facts about.
Myths about Neutering.
There are two negative myths about neutering that you may have heard and may be putting you off neutering your rabbit. It’s probably word of mouth kind of stuff that doesn’t have any real evidence to back it up.
Let’s take a look at these myths:
1) Your pet rabbit will become fat and lazy after being neutered or spayed.
This is not true. Neutering or Spaying will not make your rabbit fat and lazy – it’s food and lack of exercise that causes of this.
2) Your pet rabbit will no longer be bonded with you after you get them neutered or spayed.
Your bunny will still love you after the surgery. According to Dr. Dana Krempels:
He might not be as clingy, and you may notice a change in the sex-hormone induced behaviors. But the basic personality usually does not change, especially if the rabbit is altered at a relatively young age.
When should I Neuter my rabbit?
If you’re swaying more towards getting your little bunny neutered, the next question that might spring to mind is: when should I neuter my rabbit?
That was my first thought. Then it was: Is my rabbit already too old? Should I have done it when he was a baby?
Ronnie is a over a year old now, practically a teenager: have I waited too long?
Further research suggests no and not by a long shot.
Experts suggest that there may be some risk only when the rabbit is over 6 years old and this is due to anesthetics and surgery become more risky, not the after-effects of the procedure itself.
So when is a good age to get your rabbit neutered or spayed?
Females can be spayed as soon as they sexually mature, usually around 4 months of age, but many veterinarians prefer to wait until they are 6 months old, as surgery is riskier on a younger rabbit.
Males can be neutered as soon as the testicles descend, usually around 3-1/2 months of age.
I’ve decided to Neuter My Rabbit, what should I do next?
If you have made your mind up, then the next steps are:
- Take your bunny to the vet and ask whether any pre-operation blood tests are required.
- Book the operation in with a vet you trust.
- Don’t change your rabbit’s diet.
What do I need to do after the operation?
What you need to check
After the surgery, your rabbit should already be awake, active and eating when you go to pick the little fluff ball up.
You need to check:
- Has the rabbit been given pain medication? If not, do they need any?
- Who to contact if there any problems. This will probably be the vet where the procedure took place or an emergency vet you may already be familiar with, but it’s worth asking the question.
- Do you need to book a follow up appointment for any reason? If so after how long? Book it before you leave, if you are able to do so.
- How long should the rabbit be confined to their cage?
Bringing your rabbit home
After the treatment, it’s always a good idea for the bunny to come back to a clean cage, with new bedding, food and hay. If you’re feeling particularly guilty, you might want to get your bunny their favourite treats too.
Also, make sure to disinfect if this isn’t already a part of your bunny cleaning routine.
It’s also important to remember that male rabbits usually bounce back from the operation pretty much straight away.
Female rabbits can take a little longer to be back to their old selves – usually around a day or so.
Make sure they eat
Once your rabbit is home, one of the most important things you can do is it get them eating.
After the operation, one concern is your bunny’s digestive system grinding to a halt and that is a bad thing.
The vet should mostly prevent this with medication to reduce pain and help stimulate the rabbits tummy, but you should be prepared to give a helping with your bunny’s favourite treats and nibbles.
Not a particularly pleasant task I know, but monitoring your rabbits poo post operation is important.
Especially if they’re not producing any pellets at all, in which case you need to contact your vet and seek advice.
What should I do if I have two rabbits?
OK, so I have two rabbits…what do I do?
If you have two rabbits of the same sex, then ideally you should get them neutered or spayed at the same time and keep them together.
If you have a male and female, you need to be a little more careful.
Male rabbits can stay fertile up to 4 weeks after being neutered.
Females need to be kept away from fertile males for around 2 weeks.
During these periods, it’s best to keep them apart completely unless they’re under your watchful eye – make sure there’s no funny business under your roof.
Should I Neuter my Rabbit?
After reading all of that information you’re not sure whether you should neuter your rabbit yet, then let me break it down for you.
There are many benefits in getting your rabbit neutered or spayed.
- They can live longer.
- Reduces destructive behaviour.
- It Reduces aggressive behaviour.
- Reduces pellet and urine odor.
- Makes rabbits calmer and more loving.
- Easier to Litter train.
- Reduces the risk of cancer.
- For males, it stops spaying behaviour.
- It reduces sexual aggression for males.
- For females, it prevents the onset of pseudo pregnancy.
And there are no real downsides to neutering either, only myths.
If you’re wondering: should I neuter my rabbit? hopefully this article will help you decide one way or the other.
I know I’ve made my mind up.
As ever, the information relayed in this article are based on knowledgeable sources in the field.
Here are the sources that helped craft this article should I neuter my rabbit? :