Many pet rabbit owners will not even think of neutering / spaying their rabbit, believing that it is simply not necessary. In fact, vets and rabbit welfare experts recommend that all rabbits are de-sexed as a matter of course. There are several reasons why, as follows:-
Rabbits are designed to breed fast and frequently in the wild and the urge remains in pet rabbits. However, domestic rabbits can live for up to 12 years, especially if they are of a smaller breed, and this is a long time to be continually frustrated! Leaving a rabbit intact can damage its emotional wellbeing and lead to behavioural problems.
In female rabbits, spaying is a health necessity as up to 85% of does will develop uterine cancer by the age of 5 if left intact. This is almost always fatal to the rabbit.
Rabbits are social animals for whom companionship from another rabbit is a necessity. The best pairing is male and female as this is their natural pairing in the wild. Of course, in intact rabbits this will only lead to one thing. De-sexing rabbits enables you to keep a pair of neutered male and spayed female; this is the happiest way for domestic rabbits to live. Same sex couples who have not been de-sexed will tend to fight, especially males.
All rabbits are territorial by nature and use urine to mark their territory. Un-neutered males may even spray urine on you or another rabbit as a sign of courtship and may also mount your feet or other objects. Un-spayed females suffer from phantom pregnancies and fur-pulling and may become aggressive over their home and belongings, growling at you when you enter their territory. Neutering or spaying eliminates or at least greatly reduces such behaviour.
What is involved in neutering / spaying rabbits?
Neutering is more straightforward as the testicles are outside the body; a male rabbit will usually be able to come home from the vet the same day and recovers quickly, eating again within hours. Neutering costs around £50 to £60.
Spaying is more invasive and females may take a day or two, sometimes even three or four days, to recover. During this time they should be given pain medication and liquid food by syringe if they are not eating. Your vet may keep the rabbit until she is eating or you may be able to nurse her at home. Spaying costs around £80 to £100.
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