Many of the rabbits that come into our care due to "behavioural issues" are really just in need of neutering! We hope this page will persuade you to consider neutering your rabbit (if you haven't done so already)!
Benefits of neutering rabbits
Prevent unwanted pregnancies
Unneutered rabbits are difficult to bond due to their raging hormones when they hit puberty
When neutered, rabbits tend to be less territorial meaning they are more gentle and friendly
Castrating male rabbits makes them less likely to mount female rabbits and helps them to relax rather than constantly looking for a mate
Unneutered females can get phantom pregnancies which causes them to be very irritable and this is incredibly stressful for them
Up to 80% of female rabbits develop uterine cancer when they reach 5 years old - spaying prevents this
It is much easier to litter train a rabbit once they have been neutered
Two rabbits of the same sex are likely to fight when they hit puberty unless they have both been neutered early on
If they are not neutered, male rabbits like to spray urine everywhere - this does not smell pleasant!
Frequently asked questions about neutering
At what age should I neuter my rabbit?
Male rabbits can be neutered when their testicles descend (normally around 10 to 12 weeks), although most vets will wait until they are at least 4 or 5 months old to reduce the risks of the anaesthetic. Spaying female rabbits is a more invasive procedure and so most vets will only neuter girls when they are at least 6 months old.
How does the vet neuter my rabbit?
Male rabbits have their testicles removed via the scrotum or lower abdomen and this is a relatively minor operation. Female rabbits, however, have their uterus and both ovaries removed via the abdomen and this is a slightly more invasive procedure.
How much does neutering cost?
A male rabbit castrate is normally between £50 and £80 and a female rabbit spay is normally between £60 and £120. However, if you adopt from us, neutering has already been done and it works out a lot cheaper for you!
Is it safe?
In the past, rabbits have been well known for having problems with anaesthetic. However, since then, the risks have fallen significantly and the benefits of neutering tend to outweigh any risks. All of the rabbits that enter the rescue are neutered from as young as 4 months to as old as 7 years and we very rarely have any problems. If you would like advice as to the best vet to use, please get in touch with us and we will recommend a rabbit-savvy vet in your area.
What happens on the day?
Beforehand, the vet will probably ask you to bring your rabbit in for a pre-operative check where they will check them over to make sure they are healthy enough to be neutered. They will give you a day and time to bring your rabbit in for their neuter and will tell you that, unlike dogs and cats, rabbits should NOT be starved prior to surgery.
On the day, you will most likely have to drop your rabbit off at the vet quite early and leave them there for the day. It is a good idea to send them off with a packed lunch of their normal food to have when they wake up from the anaesthetic. If the vet is pleased with their progress, they will normally contact you to arrange to collect your rabbit. If, however, they would like to keep an eye on your rabbit, he/she will be kept in overnight.
What should I do when I get them home?
When you get your rabbit home, put them in a quiet spot inside the house while they recover. Rabbits will not be able to go on bedding such as woodshavings, straw, etc. as this could get stuck in or irritate the wound. It is best to use towels, newspaper, fleece, blankets or VetBed as an alternative. You should give your rabbit time to recover so don't try picking them up (other than to check on the wound) or playing with them for the first few days. They will, however, need lots of yummy food to encourage them to eat! Your vet may also give you pain medication to give them. If your rabbit does not start eating or going to the toilet, contact your vet for help.
How long is recovery?
Male rabbits tend to recover quickly from castration and should be back to their normal selves within a few days. They should, however, avoid jumping and exercising too much so it could be a good idea to keep them in a single-storey cage! Female rabbits will take a little longer to recover from their spay, but are normally a little more sensible about not overdoing things! The vet will give you an appointment (or sometimes two) to take your rabbit for a post-operative check. At the appointment, they will check how your rabbit is healing and will give you advise as to when your rabbit can go outdoors again.