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To Spay/neuter or Not

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Spaying and neutering rabbits

There are many advantages in terms of behavior and health to spaying and neutering your pet rabbit. In addition to these benefits, which are outlined below, you will help prevent the problem of pet rabbit overpopulation. People like to joke about how readily rabbits reproduce, but the sad truth is that far too many bunnies end up at shelters and rescues facing an uncertain future already.

Advantages to Spaying and Neutering Pet Rabbits
The obvious reason for spaying and neutering rabbits is to prevent them from reproducting, but their are many other advantages including:

  • Spaying prevents a condition called "psuedopregnancy" or false pregnancy where hormonal changes make the rabbit act as if she is pregnant.
  • Rabbits in this condition go through the motions of pregnancy including nest building and milk production and can become quite stressed and aggressive to other rabbits or people.
  • Reduced aggression; as rabbits reach sexual maturity, hormones tend to bring out aggressive and or destructive tendencies. Rabbit that are spayed and neutered tend to be calmer, easier to handle, and more affectionate with their owners.
  • Spaying and neutering greatly reduces territorial marking behavior such (e.g. urine marking and spraying), and makes litter training easier.
  • In females, spaying elimiates the risk of uterine cancer, which is quite common in rabbits. The risk of ovarian cancer is also eliminated, and the risk of mammary cancers (the animal equivalent of breast cancer) is greatly reduced.
  • Spaying also prevents other diseases of the reprductive tract such as infection of the uterus (pyometra).
  • In males, neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer.

At about the age at which the rabbit reaches the age of sexual maturity. For the majority of rabbits, this means at about 4-6 months of age. Giant breeds of rabbits may reach maturity a couple of months later so the surgery might be done a little later in these breeds if necessary.

An immature rabbit will have structures that are not well developed, making the surgery more difficult (and in males the testicles do not even descend until about 3 months). You should consult with your vet about the proper age to do your particular rabbit. With males especially, your vet should be able to tell from a quick examination whether your bunny is ready by the presence or absence of testicles in the scrotum, but a general exam can give your vet a good idea about the maturity of your rabbit and readiness for surgery.

If your rabbit is 4 months or older and exhibiting behavioral changes that include increased aggression or marking behavior, he or she is ready to be neutered or spayed!

Rabbits do require some special treatment when having surgery, so it is a very good idea to find a veterinarian who is experienced in the treatmenat and surgery of rabbits. If you find a vet who is experienced with rabbits, the surgery is very safe and the benefits far outweigh the risks.

When Routine Spays and Neuters Should Not be Done
If your rabbit is suffering from some unrelated health problem or is obese, surgery is a risk. Treat any diseases or underlying conditions before having your rabbit spayed or neutered.

 

Hey, Help keep the homeless rabbit population down! Don't breed your rabbits if you want more...leave that to professional breeders....try adopting a new one!

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