Why you should neuter your rabbit and what to expect:
When adopting a pet rabbit, it is recommended to keep pairs or groups. Rabbits are social animals and much prefer the safety, security and warmth being with others. The most successful pair bonds are between a male and female so neutering and spaying are essential in order to not be overrun by a colony of bunnies (As cute as all those twitching noses and cotton tails could be, it would be a lot of work)…
Neutering also has many health benefits, especially for females, as cancer and womb infections are very common as they age. Neutering can also reduce aggression and territorial behaviour, such as spraying, and makes it easier to house train you rabbits.
When should you neuter your rabbit?
With males, this is recommended around three months, when the testicles have descended and with females, around six months. Once your rabbits have been neutered, males and females should still be kept apart for at least two weeks, as males retain some of their fertility for a short period of time after.
It is advisable to book a check-up for your rabbit with your vet before any surgery so they can assess their physical health before proceeding.
What to expect when your rabbit goes in for neutering?
For routine neutering, your pet will typically be able to come home the same day and it should be noted that rabbits should never be starved the night before undergoing anaesthetic, unlike cats and dogs. Rabbits are unable to vomit so the risk of them doing so under anaesthetic is redundant. Give them their breakfast like normal before the trip to the vets.
When dropping your rabbit off at the veterinary clinic it is good practice to label your pet carrier with your name and name of your pet and bring along with you your rabbit’s favourite foods, as getting them eating after their operation is crucial. It is recommended to avoid lining your pet carrier with material like sawdust or straw, as particles could stick to your pet’s wounds on the return journey. Take the same approach with their bedding at home too.
How to care for your rabbit after they’ve been neutered:
When you have collected your rabbit(s) from the vets, you may notice patches of shaved fur where they have performed the operation or administered the anaesthetic. This is perfectly normal, and the hair will grow back in a few weeks.
Your vet will most likely have administered pain medication and will give you some to take away with you. Ask any questions you need to at the vets to feel confident giving your rabbit.
Your rabbit may be very quiet, withdrawn and sleepy. Afterall, they have had a stressful day. Therefore, it is best to keep them in a familiar environment which is quiet and warm. Encourage them to eat by offering them more of their favourite foods and monitor if they pass droppings. It is so important to make sure the gut is working normally.
Males often recover quicker than females as their operation is shorter and less invasive but do contact your vet if you notice any bleeding or swelling around the wound or if your rabbit still hasn’t eaten after 24 hours.
With any pet and any operation there is risk, but the benefits far outweigh this, and it is the right thing to do for your rabbit as a responsible pet owner. Taking this step enhances the quality of an individual rabbit’s life and helps tackle the overwhelming number of unwanted and abandoned bunnies.
For more information, read ‘On the Hop’, the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund’s care guide.