Small Animal

Neutering rabbits

Castration 

Castration is useful to control the notorious breeding capacity of rabbits should you have a female rabbit as well. In addition, castration will reduce the tendency for a male rabbit to fight with a companion and can make them easier to handle.

Castrated rabbits do have a greater tendency to weight gain, so please keep an eye on this following surgery.

Castration can be performed as soon as the testicles are consistently in the scrotum (they are relatively mobile in a young rabbit), usually from 5 months of age. It involves the removal of both testicles through two small incisions near the scrotum. A general anaesthetic will be required and your rabbit will need to stay in the surgery. Clean paper or straw bedding is recommended following surgery to prevent wound contamination.

Please note that a male rabbit can still be fertile for up to 6 week following castration.

Speying

Speying may be considered for breeding control, although if that is your aim, then castrating any males is a lower risk procedure. However, female rabbits have a moderately high risk of developing uterine cancer, which can be prevented by speying.

We are hesitant to recommend the speying of all female rabbits, because there are risks with abdominal surgery in rabbits, most notably ileus (the gut stops moving) and adhesions. We do spey a number of rabbits and the complication rates are low. Speyed rabbits do have a greater life expectancy. However, the risk to benefit has not been fully calculated yet, so we cannot universally recommend it.

Speying involves to removal of the uterus and ovaries through a midline incision. Your rabbits will require a general anaesthetic and will need to come into the surgery for the day. Clean straw or paper bedding is recommended for a few days following the surgery to prevent wound contamination.

General Anaesthesia in Rabbits 

Neutering in rabbits requires a general anaesthetic. Although with modern anaesthetic techniques, the risks are considerably reduced, rabbits are not a robust species and anaesthetic techniques carry a higher risk of complications than with cats and dogs.

One risk peculiar to rabbits is ileus (the gut stops moving). Rabbits should never be starved of food for an anaesthetic and should be returned to normal eating as soon as possible afterwards. It is helpful to bring in some of their food with them, so they can start eating as soon as they are awake enough.

However, the risks are sufficiently low in young, healthy rabbits that neutering should be considered.