Benefits of Neutering
Neutering will prevent unwanted pregnancies, as well as increasing life expectancy in females by up to 80% due to uterine cancer.
Rabbits are very sociable and neutering will calm them making them even more lovable.
A vet can perform this procedure on a buck from 16 weeks of age. Females from around the age of 6-8 months.
The main reason to have your rabbit neutered is so you can keep more than one rabbit without them fighting or causing a population explosion. But there are other advantages too.
Neutered rabbits are less aggressive and territorial, and are more easily litter-trained if you want to keep your pet indoors as a houserabbit.
Male rabbits (bucks) make responsive pets, but have the same drawbacks as tom cats if they're not castrated. Most are territorial and frequently spray urine, and aggression is a common problem. They will also have to live alone, which isn't fair on an animal that needs company.
Neutered males are much happier and more relaxed. They can enjoy life without constantly looking for a mate and are less aggressive and smelly! Nearly all neutered males will stop spraying urine even if the operation is performed later in life.
Castration is a relatively minor operation which can be performed as soon as the testicles descend although most vets wait until the rabbit is 4 or 5 months old, when the operation is easier to perform and the anaesthetic risk is reduced. The testicles are removed via the scrotum or lower abdomen.
Having female rabbits (does) spayed is even more important. Most females become territorial and aggressive from sexual maturity onwards (4-6 months). They have repeated false pregnancies, and may growl at, scratch and bite their owners as well as attacking other rabbits. Keeping two females together - even if they are sisters - can make things worse.
Females who are not spayed when young and in good health may have to undergo the operation in later life if a pyometra (uterine infection) or cancer develops, although usually it is too late and the cancer has already spread. Spaying is a bigger operation than castration. It's usually performed when the rabbit is at least 4 or 5 months old. The uterus and both ovaries are removed via the abdomen.
Is it safe?
In the past, rabbits gained a reputation for being difficult to anaesthetise, but the risks of rabbit anaesthesia have fallen significantly in recent years. Surgery on healthy rabbits is almost as safe as in cats.
However, low risk does not mean no risk. Surgery on any animal can have unexpected complications. But for most rabbits the benefits of neutering far outweigh the very small risk.
Older rabbits and those in poor health are more difficult to neuter safely. If your pet rabbit is older than 3 years or has medical problems (such as obesity, dental disease or "snuffles" and related disorders) you must discuss the risks and benefits with your vet in order to choose the best option for your pet.
How much does it cost?
As a very rough guide, expect to pay £35-60 for a male rabbit to be castrated and £45-80 to spay a female.
Take your rabbit to the vet well before the operation date for a health check and to discuss the procedure. Ask if any preoperative blood tests are advised. Don't change the diet in the week or so before surgery. Rabbits can't vomit, so they don't need to be fasted before surgery. They should be offered food and water right up to the time of surgery and as soon as they wake up.