The main reasons for neutering will be covered in detail below. These are:
- To prevent unwanted babies
- In order to safely bond in pairs or groups
- To help prevent health conditions such as uterine cancer
- To help prevent unwanted behaviours such as spraying, aggression and humping
Neutering involves removing their sex organs (testicles for males and ovaries for females). As a result, bunnies are no longer able to reproduce and it has other hormone-related benefits.
Females can be neutered from 4/5 months old (this varies between vets) and males from about 12 weeks (as soon as they develop their manhood!) In order to neuter bunnies they must be put under a general anaesthetic; Usually this is tolerated by them very well and the vet industry has certainly come on leaps and bounds in the last few years meaning that the risk of the anaesthetic is much lower for our furry friends that it used to be. There is always a small risk, but overall the benefits far outweigh this. Finding a vet who is rabbit-savvy and used to doing these surgeries is a must, you can use RWAF’s list of rabbit savvy vets as a guide and also question your vet about how often they see bunnies and how comfortable they are with them.
One of the main benefits of neutering is to prevent bunnies reproducing. The phrase “at it like rabbits” is very accurate! Bunnies are highly fertile and reproduce very quickly; It is very common for bunnies to become pregnant again within just hours of giving birth if they are living in unneutered mixed sex pairs/groups. Around 65,000 bunnies go through rescues each year, so it is really important to prevent more litters adding to this already crazy amount! Females are unable to reproduce immediately after being neutered, whereas it can take up to 8 weeks for males to become infertile. This is because sperm can be stored in their reproductive tract for this amount of time.
Another important reason for neutering is so that bunnies can be safely bonded together. Bunnies need a bestie; They can become very lonely if they are kept alone so we always recommend keeping rabbits in pairs or more. If they aren’t neutered, their hormone levels are changing all the time and this can often cause them to fight. As well as this, in order to pair mixed sex bunnies they definitely need to be neutered to prevent babies!
Female rabbits are at a very high risk of developing cancer of their uterus (uterine adenocarcinoma), which can only be prevented by neutering (removing their uterus). Up to 85% of females develop uterine cancer by the age of 5, and once it has spread outside of their uterus there is no cure. We have seen so many bunnies pass away from this horrible disease. We have also saved many lives by catching this at the time of spaying.
Other reasons to neuter are to present unwanted behaviours. These include spraying and humping in males, aggression and also to prevent false pregnancies in females.
We believe neutering is so important so please consider having your bunnies neutered. We are always happy to discuss this further so please do contact us or your local vet if you have any questions.