Spay & Neuter
Why spay and neuter rabbits?
- Altered rabbits are
healthier and live longer than unaltered rabbits.
The risk of reproductive cancers (ovarian, uterine,
mammarian) for an unspayed female rabbit stands at is
virtually eliminated by spaying your female rabbit. Your
neutered male rabbit will live longer as well, given
that he won't be tempted to fight with other animals
(rabbits, cats, etc.) due to his sexual aggression.
- Altered rabbits make better
companions. They are calmer, more loving, and
dependable once the undeniable urge to mate has been
removed. In addition, rabbits are less prone to
destructive (chewing, digging) and aggressive (biting,
lunging, circling, growling) behavior after surgery.
- Avoidance of obnoxious
behavior. Unneutered male rabbits spray, and
both males and females are much easier to litter train,
and much more reliably trained, after they have been
- Altered rabbits won't
contribute to the problem of overpopulation of rabbits.
Over 15 million adorable dogs, cats, and rabbits are
killed in animal shelters in this country every year. In
addition, unwanted rabbits are often abandoned in
fields, parks, or on city streets to fend for
themselves, where they suffer from starvation, sickness,
and are easy prey to other animals or traffic accidents.
Those rabbits who are sold to pet stores don't
necessarily fare any better, as pet stores sell pets to
anyone with the money to buy, and don't check on
what kind of home they will go to. Many of these rabbits
will be sold as snake food, or as a pet for a small
child who will soon "outgrow" the rabbit.
- Altered rabbits can safely
have a friend to play with. Rabbits are
social animals and enjoy the company of other rabbits.
But unless your rabbit is altered, he or she cannot have
a friend, either of the opposite sex, or the same sex,
due to sexual and aggressive behaviors triggered by
- Spaying and neutering for
rabbits has become a safe procedure when performed by
experienced rabbit veterinarians. The
House Rabbit Society has had over 1000 rabbits spayed or
neutered with approximately .1% mortality due to
anesthesia. A knowledgeable rabbit veterinarian can spay
or neuter your rabbit with very little risk to a healthy
rabbit. Don't allow a veterinarian with little or no
experience with rabbits to spay or neuter your rabbit.
Is surgery safe on rabbits?
Surgery can be as safe on rabbits as on any animal.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of veterinarians aren't
experienced with safe rabbit surgery techniques. Don't allow
a veterinarian with little or no experience with rabbits
spay or neuter your rabbit. Using isofluorene as the
anesthetic and appropriate surgical and after-surgery
techniques, spaying and neutering of rabbits is as safe as
for any other animal.
At what age should rabbits be
spayed or neutered?
Females can be spayed as soon as they sexually mature,
usually around 4 months of age, but many veterinarians
prefer to wait until they are 6 months old, as surgery is
riskier on a younger rabbit.
Males can be neutered as soon as the testicles descend,
usually around 3-1/2 months of age, but many veterinarians
prefer to wait until they are 5 months old.
When is a rabbit too old to be
spayed or neutered?
veterinarians will have their own opinions on this, but in
general, after a rabbit is 6 years old, anesthetics and
surgery become more risky.
It is always a good idea, in a rabbit over 2 years of
age, to have a very thorough health check done, including
full blood work. This may be more expensive than the
surgery, but it will help detect any condition that could
make the surgery more risky. This is especially important if
anesthetics other than isofluorene are used.
Can you tell if female rabbit has
already been spayed?
The probability is very high that she hasn't.
One can shave the tummy and look for a spay scar.
However, when veterinarians use certain stitching
techniques, there is no scar whatsoever. Hopefully, these
veterinarians will tattoo the tummy to indicate the spay has
been done, but otherwise, the only way of knowing is to
proceed with the surgery.
What does the surgery cost?
Most veterinarians charge somewhere between $55 and $180.
Most spay and neuter clinics charge between $35 and $75
What kinds of questions should I
ask the vet?
What pre- and post-operative care
should one give?
Give the rabbit acidophilus for a couple of days prior to
surgery, just to be certain that the digestive system is
functioning in fine form. Don't change the diet it any way
during this time.
After the surgery, continue giving
acidophilus until the appetite has returned to normal.
Inspect the incision morning and evening. After a neuter,
the scrotum may swell with fluids. Warm compresses will
help, but it is nothing to be overly concerned about. With
any sign of infection, take the rabbit to the veterinarian
Keep a newly spayed female away from all male rabbits
(neutered or not), as serious internal damage can be caused
if a male mounts her.
After surgery, keep the environment quiet so the rabbit
doesn't startle or panic, don't do anything to encourage
acrobatics, but let the rabbit move around at her own pace--
she knows what hurts and what doesn't
Some veterinarians keep rabbits overnight. If your
veterinarian lets you bring your bunny home the first night,
note the following:
The following morning, or at latest by the next evening, it
is important for the rabbit to be nibbling something. It
doesn't matter what or how much, as long as she is taking in
something, so the digestive tract won't shut down. If she
isn't, tempt her with everything possible, and as a last
resort, make a mush of rabbit pellets (1 part pellets, 2
parts water, run through blender thoroughly, add
acidophilus, and feed in pea-sized bits with a feeding
syringe through the side of the mouth)
- Most males come home after being neutered looking
for "supper"-- be sure they have pellets, water, and
some good hay (good, fresh alfalfa is a good way to
tempt them to nibble a bit)
- Most females want to be left alone, are not
interested in eating at all, and will sit quietly in a
back corner of the cage (or wherever in the house they
feel they will be bothered the least)
female will pull out her stitches. Get her stitched up
again, and then belly-band her by wrapping a dish towel
around her whole middle and binding that with an elastic
bandage wrapped snuggly over it. If she can breath normally,
it isn't too tight.