Rabbits are increasingly becoming a more common household pet. As they increase in popularity, continuous advances are being made in their care. This is especially true about rabbit medical care. Preforming surgery on a rabbit used to be risky at best. However, breakthroughs have been made that make rabbit surgery, in the hands of an experienced veterinarian, relatively safe. Most experts will tell you that a large portion of the questions that new rabbit owners have come down to one; Is your rabbit fixed? Like with cats and dogs, there are many benefits that come with getting your rabbit spayed or neutered.
Most of the benefits that come with getting a rabbit fixed are behavioral. Sexually mature, unfixed, rabbits have a high level of hormones. These hormones can cause them to act aggressively, both towards humans and other rabbits. If you’d like to someday be able to have your rabbit live with a friend, getting both rabbits involved fixed is an important first step. Unspayed females often develop cage aggression. They become territorial and will fight to defend their cage. Male rabbits that are unfixed will commonly mount things – other rabbits and slippers alike! Male rabbits that are unfixed will rarely accept other males as buddies, resorting to fighting with them rather then being friends. And of course male/female unfixed pairs may get along the best, but will result in a huge collection of little bunnies! Fixing rabbits greatly reduces behavioral problems. It usually greatly reduces or eliminates annoying behaviors such as urine spraying, cage aggression, aggression in general, and excessive mating behaviors.
Spayed and neutered rabbits are usually much more consistent about using their litter box than their intact counterparts. It’s not uncommon for rabbits to go from almost never using their boxes before being spayed/neutered, to almost never having any accidents after being fixed. Having a litter box trained rabbit makes cleaning up after them infinitely easier!
Along with being helpful with bonding, and behavior, it’s important to spay female rabbits because unspayed females have very high rates of reproductive (notably uterine and mammary) cancers. A very large proportion of unspayed female rabbits will develop reproductive cancer before the age of 5. Spaying them eliminates this risk. Getting rabbits fixed can be expensive, but dealing with cancer is much more expensive and usually results in a tragic ending for your pet. Nowadays, depending on where you live, it is sometimes possible to find vets who preform low cost altering on rabbits.
Rabbits can make excellent pets for the right owners. Fixing them goes a long way towards improving the lives of the rabbit and owners alike! Unfixed rabbits often have an insatiable urge to breed. They become frustrated when other rabbits aren’t around. Fixed rabbits are less aggressive, easier to clean up after, can be healthier, make better bonding candidates, and are better behaved. Rabbits who have been spayed or neutered are not able to contribute to the overwhelming population of homeless animals in shelters, and they are much better candidates to live the lives of spoiled house rabbits.
For more information about getting your rabbit fixed, finding a rabbit savvy vet, or caring for pet rabbits in general, the House Rabbit Society is a great place to look! The NJ House Rabbit Society has a list of local rabbit experienced vets on their website. They also offer a low cost spay/neuter certificate program that is accepted by a select number of NJ veterinarians.
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