extracted from House
Rabbit Society website, adapted to local context
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 over 80% but 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 irrepressible
urge to mate has been removed. In addition, rabbits
are less prone to destructive (chewing, digging) and
aggressive (biting, lunging, circling, growling) behaviour
- Elimination of obnoxious behaviour. 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.
- Altered rabbits won't contribute to the problem
of overpopulation of rabbits. An average of 30 rabbits
are given up to the SPCA every month. 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
homes 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
behaviours triggered by hormones.
- Spaying and neutering for rabbits has become a safe
procedure when performed by experienced rabbit veterinarians.
A knowledgeable rabbit veterinarian can spay or neuter
your rabbit with very little risk to a healthy rabbit.
Do not allow a veterinarian with little or no experience
with rabbits to spay or neuter your rabbit.
safe on rabbits?
Surgery can be as safe on rabbits as on any animal.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of veterinarians are
not experienced with safe rabbit surgery techniques.
Do not allow a veterinarian with little or no experience
with rabbits to 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.
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.
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 which
could make the surgery more risky. This is especially
important if anesthetics other than isofluorene are
you tell if a female rabbit has already been spayed?
The probability that she hasn't been spayed is very
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 that the spaying surgery
has been performed, but otherwise, the only way of knowing
is to proceed with the surgery.
does the surgery cost?
Most veterinarians charge somewhere between $55 - $60
for neutering a buck and $99 - $110 for spaying a doe.
can I find a veterinarian who is able to perform the
This will be made available soon. Please write
to HRSS should you need the information immediately.
kinds of questions should I ask the vet?
- about how many rabbit clients does the veterinarian
see in a year?
- how many spays/neuters OF RABBITS have the veterinarian
performed in the past year?
- what was the success rate?
90% success is way too low. Every doctor, whether
for animals or humans will occasionally lose a patient;
usually because of an undiagnosed problem. However,
veterinarians across the country who spay and neuter
rabbits for the House Rabbit Society have lost on
average less than 1/2 of 1%.
- if any were lost, what was the cause?
- does the veterinarian remove both uterus and ovaries?
- does the veterinarian do "open" or "closed"
neuters? (Closed is preferable--let your veterinarian
explain the difference)
- is entry to the testicles made through the scrotum
or the abdomen? (Entry via the abdomen unnecessarily
increases the trauma for male rabbits)
- does the veterinarian require withholding of food
and water prior to surgery in rabbits? (It is better
not to do this--rabbits can't vomit, so there is no
risk of that during surgery, and rabbits should never
be allowed to have empty digestive tracts)
- what anaesthetics are used (some veterinarians are
quite successful with anaesthetics other than isofluorene,
but the rabbit is "hung over" after surgery,
which increases the probability that he will be slow
to start eating again, which can lead to serious problems
if not dealt with.
- review the procedure (op and immediate post-op)
with your vet. Ask how problems will be detected:
how often will they (the veterinarian and the techs)
look in on your rabbit and what will they look for?
What will they do pre-op to find any potential problems?
How will they support your rabbit in the hours after
surgery: warmth, quiet (barking dogs and yowling cats
in the next cage are probably not helpful), and stimulation?
What are they going to do to make it come out right?!
Ask questions! That will get your veterinarian's attention.
Let them know you're concerned and that you'll be
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 in
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 that the
rabbit doesn't startle or panic, don't do anything to
encourage acrobatics, but let the rabbit move around
at his/her own pace-- s/he knows what hurts and what
Some veterinarians keep rabbits overnight. If your
veterinarian lets you bring your rabbit home the first
night, note the following:
- 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)
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 s/he
is taking in something, so that the digestive tract
won't shut down. If s/he isn't, tempt him/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
Occasionally a 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 is able to breath normally, it isn't too tight.