Why do rabbits need to be neutered?

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I’m aware that a lot of people don’t regard neutering small animals to be necessary, but I urge you to neuter your rabbits. Hell, and your dogs and cats too. I don’t agree with breeding animals for pets to the extent that I would prefer that nobody had pets if it meant that none would be abused.

What can I say? I’m a vegan hippy that just wants everyone to be kind to animals.

Rabbits need to be neuter because:

  • Neutering your rabbit dramatically reduces the risk of cancer
  • Neutering leads to calmer, happier bunny
  • Neutering makes it much easier to bond your rabbit

What is neutering a rabbit?

Neutering is also called desexing, a term I think is hideous, and is sometimes also called fixing. It basically involves removing the reproductive organs so that the bunnies can’t breed.

Male rabbits are castrated – they have their testicles removed and that’s about it. Neutered also is technically males only, but I can’t be bothered to write spay/neuter every time.

It’s worth noting that male rabbits can store semen for up to A MONTH after castration. Mad skills. Don’t be too hasty with reintroducing them if you have unspayed females.

Female rabbits are spayed, which amounts to the equivalent of a human woman having a full hysterectomy. It’s major surgery, but absolutely worth it.

Remember that wild rabbits are unlikely to make it to two years old, so these problems don’t arise, but female domestic rabbits are likely to get cancer. In fact, it’s so common that I can confidently say that an unspayed rabbit only has a 10% chance of NOT getting cancer. Not great odds, kids.

Is neutering rabbits dangerous?

Neutering a rabbit is no more dangerous than any other surgery. The reason that so many people advise against having rabbits fixed is that rabbits aren’t too great at being sedated, and they need to get eating within 24 hours of eating or risk gut stasis, which can be lethal.

However, spays are more dangerous than castrations, in, I believe, most mammals. Testicles are outside of the body, and can be removed without invasive surgery, thus reducing the risk of infection.

Cards on the table, I’ve lost two rabbits to surgery, one of which was a spay. But I don’t regret my decision. Unfixed rabbits can have a host of health problems (especially does, who have a 90% chance of contracting uterine cancers if they’re not spayed), which can be painful and debilitating.

Neutering also allows the rabbit to live a happier, sex hormone-free life. They have fewer behavioural problems, are easier to litter train, FAR easier to bond, and are just…happier. They’re not constantly on the hunt for someone or something to procreate with.

Do rabbits need to be neutered?

From my perspective, yes they do. I don’t believe there are any good reasons not to spay your bunny, especially here in the UK.

  • If you can’t afford to neuter your rabbit, you probably can’t afford to keep one. A spay is a relatively cheap surgery.
  • If you don’t want to go through the stress of dealing with the aftercare, adopt a bunny that’s already fixed. That’s what I chose to do.
  • That being said, if you’re desperate for a baby bunny but are scared of aftercare, get a male, who have a less dangerous surgery. But have a good hard look at yourself and ask why you want a baby bunny. They’re fully grown in like a month.
  • Don’t breed your rabbits. Just…don’t. Whether it’s for cash or meat, it’s deplorable.

Having your bunny fixed is the best thing you can do for their health. Please please get it done.

How much does it cost to neuter a rabbit?

In the USA it varies WILDLY. Anything from $70 to $700. Seriously, it’s cheaper to adopt a rabbit from a shelter that’s already been fixed. The House Rabbit society claims the average cost of a spay is $250. They also call it ‘altering’. Fair enough.

Here in the UK, it’s considerably cheaper, for reasons I’ll explain in a bit. BUT if you get a rabbit from a reputable rescue, they are almost ALL likely to have been spayed OR will come with a voucher for a free spay that you MUST redeem.

Whilst I would never recommend getting a bunny from Pets at Home, they do at least insist that you have them spayed (I’m not sure how rigorously this is enforced) and all their bunnies are microchipped.

I know this because the dumped bunny my boyfriend brought home had one.

So, why are spays so cheap in the UK (well, any vet I’ve been to)?

Because you pay for the time spent on the table NOT the operation. So whilst dogs and cats are pretty expensive to neuter, rabbits are relatively cheap, since it’s such a straight forward and common op.

Bizarre considering at least two of my rabbits have been the same size as two of my mum’s iggys put together.

What are the benefits of neutering a rabbit?

  • Fixed rabbits are calmer, less aggressive and easier to handle. You will appreciate this come nail trim time. Whilst it absolutely isn’t a quick fix to aggressive buns (I have a spayed aggressive bun) it definitely makes them more receptive to basic training. And stops them spraying pee up the walls, which is always good.
  • Fixed rabbits are way easier to bond. You can’t bond two unfixed rabbits for reasons that I hope are obvious, and it’s unfair to try to bond an unfixed bunny with a fixed one. Too. Many. Hormones. Either the unfixed one will have to be submissive and accept being constantly humped OR they’ll be forever fighting.

Are there any disadvantages to neutering a rabbit?

No. The risk of complications is actually less than 5%.

I’m not saying that there are no risks to surgery, just that I believe that the risk from surgery is far less than the risks you run if you leave them intact.

Don’t be put off spaying just because you have an older bun, provided the vet is happy to proceed. Two of my rabbits underwent surgery when they were 10+ and were absolutely fine.

Final thoughts on neutering bunnies

Please please please spay or neuter your rabbits. Better yet, adopt a bunny that has already been fixed.

Remember that it can take a few months for all the hormones to dissipate (and a month for all the sperm to die), so don’t worry if your rabbits are still spraying and hormonal when they recover from their op. Even if it doesn’t automatically fix all their behavioural issues, it’s what’s best for their health.

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