Spaying or Neutering Your Rabbit

neuter rabbit

Although most people are familiar with the reasons for spaying or castrating their cats and dogs, the need to desex rabbits is often overlooked. However, there are numerous advantages to owning a neutered rabbit.

What does a rabbit spay involve?

A rabbit spay is the surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus via an incision made in the abdomen. This surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic, and your pet will usually have to spend the night at the vet clinic. The procedure is very similar to that performed on cats and dogs.

What is the correct age to get my female rabbit spayed?

Your veterinarian will advise you as to what age your rabbit should be when it is spayed. Typically, rabbits are spayed when they reach sexual maturity. The age of sexual maturity will depend on the breed of rabbit, generally 3-4 months for smaller dwarf breeds, and 4-5 months for larger breeds. Most veterinarians suggest spaying a rabbit at 6 months just to be safe.

What are the benefits of getting my rabbit spayed?

There are numerous health and behavioural benefits for a spayed rabbit:

• Eliminates the possibility of uterine cancer, which many female rabbits will develop by the age of ~ 6 years

• Prevents mammary (breast) and eliminates ovarian cancer

• Reduces hormone-driven behaviour such as aggression (biting, circling, growling, lunging), territoriality, urine marking, hypersexual behaviour, fur-pulling and nesting behaviour

• Reduces destructive behaviour (digging, chewing)

• Prevents unwanted offspring

• It is much easier to keep your spayed rabbit with other rabbits of either sex

• Spayed rabbits tend to be calmer and more affectionate pets

Myth – Surgery on rabbits isn’t safe!

Operating on a rabbit is as safe as on any other animal. This misconception about the safety of operating on rabbits probably arose because many veterinarians were relatively inexperienced with dealing with rabbits. If you have any concerns, consult your veterinarian about their experience with rabbit medicine and surgery or make an appointment with a veterinarian who specialises in rabbit medicine.

What does rabbit castration involve?

A veterinarian will surgically remove the testicles via incisions made in the scrotum. This procedure is performed under general anaesthetic, and your rabbit usually spends the night in the vet clinic to recuperate.

What is the best age to have my male rabbit castrated?

Consult your veterinarian as to what age they usually castrate male rabbits. Most veterinarians will neuter a male rabbit at sexual maturity (5-8 months). As this time is variable (smaller breeds mature earlier than larger ones), the accepted age is generally 6 months.

What are the advantages of owning a castrated male rabbit?

There are numerous health and behavioural benefits for a neutered male rabbit:

• He will be permanently prevented from breeding

• The possibility of testicular cancer is eliminated

• Hormone-induced behavioural problems like aggression (biting, lunging, circling, growling), territoriality, urine marking/spraying, and hypersexual behaviour (mounting) will all be reduced

• Destructive behaviour (digging, chewing) is reduced

• He can be kept safely with other rabbits

• Castrated rabbits tend to be calmer and more affectionate pets

Myth – I can put my male rabbit in with my female rabbit right after he is neutered.

If you put a newly castrated male rabbit in with a female rabbit that has not been spayed, there is a good chance you will have 4 to 12 kittens (baby rabbits) a month later. Neutered males have been known to successfully mate up to 6 weeks post-operatively, so take care when putting your neutered male in with a female rabbit.

(photo: wwarby)