What sex is my rabbit?
If you have young rabbits it can be hard to tell what sex they are until they reach maturity. The person you bought the bunny from may have made a mistake – pet shops, breeders and even vets can get it wrong in young rabbits. Make sure the sex of your bunny is confirmed when they are vaccinated at 10-12weeks.
When should I neuter?
Rabbits reach sexual maturity when they reach about 75% of their adult body weight, which means smaller breeds will become fertile earlier. For females, the age of maturity is approx 4-5months in small breeds, 5-8 months in larger. Ideally females should be neutered after 5 months of age. In a male the testicles descend into their sacs at about 10-12 weeks, and they can be neutered anytime after that. Males will still be fertile for about 4 weeks after surgery, so do not put them with any entire, mature females until this time has lapsed.
Desexing your rabbit keeps them happy and healthy and improves their quality and length of life!
Ideally all rabbits should be desexed, and if you have more than one bunny this is an absolute necessity. Undesexed males and females will have babies (and can multiply at a tremendous rate), and same sex couples will fight – entire males have the capacity to kill each other, if the situation arises. Desexing makes bunnies happier and healthier.
Why should I neuter?
If left entire, female rabbits run a big risk of developing cancer of the uterus in later life – a study in 2004 estimated a 50-80% chance in a rabbit over 3 years. Entire females can also develop mammary tumours, and can have phantom pregnancies. Their hormones can make them aggressive and hard to handle. They also obviously run the risk of pregnancy if there is any possibility of access to entire male rabbits (including relatives), and a female rabbit can get pregnant immediately after giving birth.
Who should neuter my rabbits?
Desexing rabbits is more complex than cats and dogs, and performed under a general anaesthetic. Your bunny should have a full pre op check to see if they are fit for surgery, and be given fluids and intubated during surgery. They should be given pain relief before and after surgery. They should not be starved at all before surgery, and may need assistance to eat for a day or so afterwards.
Desexing (neutering or spaying) a female rabbit is bigger surgery than a male. In the past rabbit surgery and anaesthesia was considered to be high risk, but advances in medicine, surgical techniques and monitoring have made it a much safer procedure. Make sure you have a rabbit savvy vet who is experienced in this type of surgery.