Rabbit Neutering - Benefits, Price and Care
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Neutering is not a process we always associate with rabbits. While it is very common for local jurisdictions to require neutering for dogs and cats, similar laws don't usually exist for rabbits. This does not mean that neutering is important, rather it speaks to the resources available on the matter. Whether castrating a male rabbit or spaying a female rabbit, it is important to look at the benefits of neutering rabbits. At AnimalWised, we understand budget issues can affect your rabbit care, so we also look at the price of rabbit neutering and what care they will need after surgery.
Neutering in rabbits
Sterilization is the process of rendering an animal infertile. Neutering is a type of permanent sterilization, but there are other methods of prohibiting the functioning of the sexual organs:
- Neutering: this is performed by surgically removing the sexual organs and is a permanent procedure.
- Chemical sterilization: disabling the sexual organs can be carried out without surgical intervention. Drugs can be used to either temporarily or permanently cease sexual organ function. An example is immunocastration which used an anti-GnRH vaccine to inhibit the functionality of the testicles.
Surgical sterilization is by far the most common practice in veterinary medicine. It is the most effective and doesn't have as many complications.
Neutering male rabbits
The surgical technique is known as orchiectomy, commonly called castration. It consists of the removal of the testicles, as well as the ligation of the blood vessels and spermatic cords that were attached to the testicles.
Neutering female rabbits
In females, there are two possible techniques:
- Ovariohysterectomy: consists of removing both the ovaries and the uterus. It is by far the most common technique and is commonly known as spaying.
- Ovariectomy: consists of removing only the ovaries. Its effectiveness in preventing diseases is similar to that of an ovariohysterectomy, given that most pathologies appear as a consequence of ovarian hormones.
When to neuter a rabbit
Neutering rabbits must be carried out when they reach sexual maturity. It is only at this point that their degree of sexual development allows reproduction to be possible. This happens when they reach about 80% of their adult weight.
Neutering animals that have not reached sexual maturity is not recommended. The surgery could be more complicated due to the size and position of the reproductive organs. In addition, early castration does not imply any additional advantage for the health of these animals.
When to neuter a male rabbit
In the case of males, sexual maturity is reached at 3-5 months. Small breeds are usually castrated slightly earlier than large ones. From this point onwards, an orchiectomy can be performed.
It is important to note that males continue to be fertile for 4 weeks after castration as they still have viable sperm in their reproductive system. This fact must be taken into account to avoid unwanted pregnancies, so the animal must be kept separated from females.
When to spay a female a rabbit
Neutering female rabbits should be carried out a little later than males. They reach sexual maturity around 4-6 months, although small breeds also usually reach this stage sooner than larger rabbit breeds.
If you are unsure whether you have a male or female rabbit, take a look at our related article on how to sex a rabbit.
How much does it cost to neuter a rabbit?
If you want to know the price of sterilizing a rabbit, it is best to check with your trusted exotic animal clinic. Prices may vary depending on the technique used and the individual requirements of your rabbit. However, as a general guide price, neutering rabbits usually costs around $250 in the USA and around £80 in the UK.
Some clinics carry out annual sterilization campaigns, During this time, it may be possible to spay or neuter rabbits at a lower price than usual.
Benefits of neutering a rabbit
Rabbit guardians often wonder if they should neuter their rabbits. In most cases, the answer is almost certainly yes. Sterilization increases the life expectancy of rabbits and makes living with them easier and more pleasant. For most veterinarians, neutering rabbits is part of responsible rabbit guardianship.
The specific benefits of neutering rabbits include:
- Disease prevention: in the case of males, castration prevents the appearance of orchitis (inflammatory process of the testicles), epididymitis (inflammatory process of the epididymis) and testicular neoplasms (including cancerous tumors). Spaying female rabbits prevents dangerous pathologies such as uterine adenocarcinoma, endometrial hyperplasia, polyps, pyometra, hydrometra, mucometra, endometritis and pseudopregnancy, among others. Uterine adenocarcinoma, since it is the most frequent tumor in rabbits. 90% of non-neutered female rabbits older than 5 years develop this tumor. For this reason, we consider spaying female rabbits to be mandatory for preventive health.
- Resolution of behavioral problems: especially territorial marking and aggressiveness. Urine marking problems usually appear with the arrival of sexual maturity in both sexes, especially in males. Neutering helps eliminate this behavior or at least considerably reduces it. Aggressiveness (especially territorial aggressiveness of females during the mating season) also improves considerably with neutering rabbits. Learn more with our related article on aggression in rabbits.
- Prevention of unwanted litters: unfortunately, it is common knowledge that animal shelters are full of animals waiting for adoption, many of them the result of irresponsible breeding. The awareness of society about the importance of sterilization is crucial to achieve a zero abandonment level.
Aftercare for neutering a rabbit
Rabbits are quite stoic animals showing hardly any symptoms of pain or discomfort. Postoperative care is particularly important in this species. Adequate vigilance and care during this period will be essential to guarantee a good recovery.
Below, we detail the most relevant postoperative care so that you know what to do after neutering a rabbit:
- After their arrival at home, they must be kept separate from other animals (dogs, cats, etc.), as they could add unwanted stress. If you have multiple rabbits, they don't need to be kept separate unless they tend to mount or play roughly. In the specific case of males, remember to keep them separated from females for 4 weeks to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
- The environment should be as calm as possible. The animal must be prevented from jumping or making sudden movements that could cause the dehiscence (reopening) of the wound.
- House them in a warm, draught-free environment. It is preferable to place a towel or pad on the floor of the animal's enclosure to provide warmth and prevent hay or substrate from irritating or infecting the wound.
- If the animal is kept in a clean place, it is not necessary to perform wound dressings. However, it is a good idea to check the incision daily to make sure it is healing properly and there are no signs of infection or inflammation (itching, redness, discharge, etc.).
- It is essential to provide them with food and water. Unlike other animals, rabbits should not fast prior to surgery. They should start eating and drinking as soon as possible in the postoperative period in order to minimize the incidence of digestive disturbances. In the event that the animal does not start eating within a few hours of surgery, it is essential to notify the veterinary professional. The rabbit will probably require fluid therapy and hand feeding with porridge.
- Handling should be minimized. It is important not to overwhelm the rabbits during recovery. Petting and other forms of interaction should only be given whenever they have a positive result in the animals.
- It is necessary to comply with the prescribed medication. After surgery, it is important to administer the drugs prescribed by the veterinarian (analgesics, antibiotics, prokinetics, etc.).
- Veterinary check-ups must be honored. If everything progresses favorably, a first review is usually carried out after 48 hours and another after 7-10 days. However, in the event of any anomaly, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. As we have said, rabbits are very stoic animals, so any sign should alert us to a potential problem.
Find out other methods of preventive medicine for bunnies with our guide to vaccinations for rabbits.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to Rabbit Neutering - Benefits, Price and Care, we recommend you visit our Prevention category.
- Corpas, P. (2016). The rabbit as a pet: castration in males and females. Bibliographic review. Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Zaragoza, TFG.