Should a Pet Rabbit be Spayed or Neutered?
This is a good question, and one that rabbit owners have probably pondered at one time or another. There can be several benefits to having your rabbit spayed or neutered; especially if you own one rabbit and there is no chance that it would have the opportunity to mate.
BENEFITS OF SPAYING AND NEUTERING
As with cats and dogs, spaying and neutering them, does have some behavioral effects, as well as rendering them sterile. Here are some of the possible benefits:
- This will eliminate the worry and risk of pregnancy if your rabbit needs to be housed with a male rabbit for any length of time, or if you decide to get a second rabbit as a companion.
- Helps prevent a condition known as “pseudopregnancy” or false pregnancy, where hormonal changes cause rabbits to act like they're pregnant, including milk production and nest building behavior; both of which may make your rabbit more aggressive, as these conditions stress rabbits.
- Helps to reduce the abandoned rabbit population at local animal shelters. People sometimes tire of caring for a rabbit, and either abandon them in the wild, or decide they only want one rabbit, after their pet has mated.
- Reduces aggressive or offensive behavior. When a rabbit is spayed or neutered, it generally manifests itself through a calmer, gentler personality. Their temperament becomes friendlier and more approachable to human handling. Once the desire to mate has been removed, males and females are less likely to bite, chew and growl more.
- Offensive behavior such as spraying and territorial marking by males, will be greatly reduced, if not eliminated altogether, and both males and females will be more receptive to litter training. In males neutering has also shown a reduction in chewing behavior within several weeks or months.
- Emotional benefits include, being able to safely introduce another rabbit into your home if you so desire, as aggressive behavior will be greatly diminished or removed completely. Unaltered rabbits are too hormonally aggressive with a companion, no matter what sex.
- A healthier life and increased life span for females, as spaying removes the risks of ovarian, mammary and uterine cancers. Spaying also eliminates reproductive problems such as pyometra (infection of the uterus), hyperplasia and uterine polyps (inflammation of the lining of the uterus). In males, neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and orchitis (infection of the testicles usually the result of fighting with other rabbits).
- Unpleasant odor of urine is also eliminated by neutering males.
WHEN TO SPAY OR NEUTER
It is generally a good idea to spay or neuter your rabbit when they are between 4-6 months old. It’s best to neuter a male before he is two years old, to enjoy the greatest benefit of disease preventions mentioned previously. It is also more expensive to get older males neutered, because of more extensive pre-op requirements including lab testing, and because older rabbits have more abdominal fat, making the surgery take longer and require extra work. This also increases general surgical risks, as the rabbit must be under anesthesia longer, which means a greater risk of complications.
Although it's more popular now than it used to be, spaying and neutering is still a wide controversy as many believe it's wrong and cruel. What's your personal opinion and what would you do? Please share your view with us in the comments below.