That little bundle of fur you brought home seems to be undergoing some changes. Gone is that relaxed demeanor, replaced with unfettered crankiness. Litterbox habits have flown away like a flower’s petals in the wind. Maybe your leg, arm, or a favorite stuffed animal has become your rabbit’s undying object of affection. Your rabbit is frustrated. And, now, so are you. Every rabbit parent, who has a young rabbit, goes through it. The signs that it’s time to spay or neuter your rabbit begin to appear.
You’ll need to now start your search for a rabbit-savvy vet if you don’t have one. Or, if you do have a vet, it’s time to pick up the phone and make an appointment for your rabbit to be altered.
Altering and Age
Rabbits must reach sexual maturity to be altered. Once your male’s testicles descend, he is ready for surgery. Males typically mature at approximately three-and-a-half months.
Female rabbits can generally be safely altered at four months old. How old your rabbit is when she’s spayed, however, really depends on your vet. Some vets are perfectly fine with spaying a four month old while others suggest waiting until six months. Surgery may be riskier in a younger rabbit, thus some vets wait.
Top 6 Reasons To Spay or Neuter Your Rabbit
Promote Good Health.
Unaltered rabbits, especially females, face the very real risk of uterine cancer and mammary cancer. That risk increases as your rabbit gets older. Spaying your female rabbit will significantly decrease the chances of both types of cancer. Males, on the other hand, can get testicular cancer as they get older. Altering your rabbit will help ensure he or she lives a longer life.
Rabbits are sociable animals and most love to have a lagomorph companion. An altered rabbit can safely live and thrive with another altered rabbit (once, of course, you’ve gone through the bonding process).
Goodbye, Bad Habits.
We all have bad habits. Most of your rabbit’s bad habits, however, can be helped with altering. An unaltered rabbit who’s dealing with hormones is more prone to spraying, not using his litterbox, growling, boxing, biting, circling, and humping. Altering will help your rabbit calm down because the hormones will be gone. (It takes a minimum of four weeks for the hormones to leave your rabbit’s body after altering.)
Ahhh… Breathe in that Fresh Air.
Ever noticed how bad your unaltered rabbit’s urine and poop smells? That’s the last thing you want to be stuck in a room with, right? Well, that strong odor tends to dissipate when a rabbit is altered. (And that's a reason in itself to spay or neuter your rabbit, yes?)
Poop in the Litter Box!
And, that’s just what your rabbit is more likely to do when she’s altered. (That doesn’t take into account, of course, the poop wars that often result when a new rabbit is introduced into the family or the rabbit moves to a new space.)
Help Prevent Homelessness.
Millions of dogs, cats, rabbits, and other pets are euthanized due to overpopulation each year. Spaying or neutering your rabbit will help prevent that overpopulation.
You want as many years with your beloved bun as possible. Altering your rabbit doesn’t guarantee a long life but it certainly helps protect your rabbit against a vicious cancer and increases his/her chances of a longer life. If you’re concerned about the surgery, talk with your rabbit-savvy veterinarian.
Dana Krempels, PhD
House Rabbit Society