Neutering Male Rabbits

Why neuter?

Male rabbits (bucks) can sometimes exhibit behaviours that are linked to their hormones and mating rituals. These can include circling your feet, making a humming/buzzing noise, nipping, mounting things, spraying urine over you or your home. If an entire buck gets with an entire female rabbit (doe) then she can become pregnant very quickly and produce large amounts of offspring. Entire bucks if with other bucks/does can become aggressive and injure each other.
If your buck is neutered it can prevent or remove some of these behaviours and allow your rabbit to be able to live with other rabbits happily. Note: Male rabbits are still fertile for 4-6 weeks post-op.

Cost of neutering

The cost of neutering varies greatly throughout the country. It could be around £40-50. The best thing I would say to do is to go to a vet that has been recommended by someone else who has rabbits, or alternatively ask your local rabbit rescue centre what vet they use as they will have had lots of experience of rabbits.

Neutering

Your buck can usually be neutered once they are 4 months old.
Usually your rabbit will go in at around 9am and you can often phone up around lunchtime-2pm to check how it went. They are usually ready to leave by 5pm.
Your rabbit needs to continue to eat/drink right up to going to the vets. You should also make it a packed lunch of its favourite greens/pellets etc that the nurses can use to tempt your rabbit to start eating asap after they wake up.
Your rabbit will have 2 small incisions on their testicles. Most vets will do intradermal stitches which are under the skin and dissolve so makes it harder for the rabbit to nibble at them or pull them out.

After the op

When you get your rabbit home he may be a little sleepy and quieter than usual. It is best to keep him indoors for the first 24hrs to help keep him warm and also to keep a close eye on him. After the surgery they often have low temperature due to the shock and anaesthetic so needs to be kept warm. You should keep him off hay/straw bedding for the first day so that it doesnít irritate his wounds. Ensure his cage/hutch and litter tray are cleaned and filled with fresh litter/hay/paper etc. This will make it easier to check that he is pooing and weeing ok.
Offer him lots of different foods that he enjoys to encourage him to eat asap. This may take several hours but keep tempting him every few hours and check that he is drinking.
Keep an eye on whether your buck is pooing or weeing normally. If your buck is not eating/drinking, pooing/weeing normally after 12hrs you may need to consult your vet or start syringe feeding him.
You should check his wounds daily until they are fully healed and he is back to normal. He will normally have a check-up at the vets 2-3days after his op to check everything is ok.

Spaying Female Rabbits

Why Spay?

Female rabbits (does) often exhibit territorial behaviours that can sometimes be linked to their hormones. Also some does will exhibit sexual behaviours such as spraying, biting, mounting. They can also suffer false(phantom) pregnancies which mean they will build nests, pluck their fur out etc and can cause a lot of stress and aggression. These behaviours can sometimes be prevented or can disappear after your doe is spayed.
Also there is a risk of urterine cancer, ovarian cancer and mammary cancers in does. This can kill rabbits and is fairly undetectable before the rabbit dies.
Rabbits enjoy company and by spaying your doe it may make bonding with another rabbit easier and will also prevent any unwanted pregnancies.

Cost of Spaying

Spaying can cost up to £65 approximately, depending on your vet practice and what area of the country you live in. It is much more important to find a vet who is competent in rabbit surgery so I would suggest you ask others to recommend one or contact your local rabbit rescue centre to find out what vet they use.

Spaying

Your rabbit can be spayed from around 6 months old.
Your rabbit will usually go into the vets at around 9am and will usually be ready to go home around 5pm. Your vet will usually phone you or ask you to phone them around lunchtime-3pm to check how your rabbit is.
Prior to the op your rabbit should continue to have access to food and water as they do not need to be starved like humans. You should send a packed lunch of your doeís favourite greens/foods so that the nurses can tempt her to eat after surgery asap.
Your rabbit will be shaved on her stomach area and will have a 2-3inch vertical incision. Most vets will use intradermal stitches which are internal, dissolve on their own and are less likely to be nibbled at or pulled out by your rabbit . Often your rabbit will need to go back after 2-3days for a post op check.

Post-Op

Female rabbits should have painkillers post-op, your vet ay give an injection for this that lasts 24-48 hours or you may be given medicine to give. Check which with your vet as pain medication will help get your rabbit back on her feet quickly. Once you get your doe home you need to ensure she is kept warm as her body temperature will drop due to the anaesthetic. Giving her vetbed or blankets to bed on will help and are soft against her wound. She should not be bedded on straw/hay/shavings as these can irritate her wound.
Encourage her to eat and drink as soon as you can. Offer her a variety of her favourite foods and ensure there is plenty of fresh water and hay available to her. Female rabbits will often not eat much for the first 24hrs and may need to be syringe fed water and/or liquid feed. If you do not have liquid feed from your vet you can mash pellet food with water and give this to her. Be very careful when syringe feeding as you do not want to cause more stress to her and also you need to do it very slowly to ensure she does not choke on the water/food. If you are at all concerned about your rabbit not eating/drinking after 24hrs post surgery consult your vet.
You may find that her poos are smaller than usual for the first few days as her intestines may have been upset during surgery and take a few days to get back to usual. Also if she isnít eating/drinking then it will also take a few days to get back to usual.
She will need to be kept separate from any other rabbits for at least 2-3 days so that she can rest. If she is usually with a male rabbit they should not be put together straight away as he can cause damage to her if he mounts her. Ask your vet for advice. She should be kept in a confined area for the first few days and should not be allowed to jump on or off high objects. You need to check her wound regularly to check that it is healing, showing no signs of infection, and that she isnít nibbling at her stitches. If the wound looks red, inflamed, oozing, open, bleeding she will need to go back to the vet as soon as possible.


IF IN DOUBT PLEASE CONSULT YOUR VET

by Chris (diddeen)
25/05/2005