Why is it so important to neuter your rabbit?
To have a happy, healthy group or pairing of rabbits, they all need to be neutered. If you had a pair of rabbits of the opposite sex that were un-neutered you would end up with litters of babies on a regular basis. An average female rabbit can produce a litter 6 or 7 times a year at least. They could have between 3 – 5 babies each time. That is a possible average of 52 rabbits a year. Each pregnancy only lasts around 28 – 31 days. So you may think to solve this problem you will just have one of the rabbits neutered to stop the problem. This is unfortunately what lots of people do, and certainly not the right way to go about it.
This will not stop an un-castrated male stressing out the spayed female rabbit with his constant ‘unwanted behaviour’. He could very well display aggressiveness/possessiveness towards his mate or you. He will spray urine around the accommodation, all over his mate and you, which is not a pleasant smell and very difficult to get rid of. If you castrate the male and the female has not been spayed, she is likely to get aggressive, display strong territorial behaviour by grunting, lunging and possibly scratching and biting. She is very likely to have false pregnancies with fur pulling and could be at a great risk of uterine cancer.
If you decide to have two rabbits of the same sex, whether male or female (even sisters or brothers) they will both also need to be neutered as they are highly likely to fight with each other as they grow and their hormones kick in. So now you can see why so many end up in rescues - the owners mistakenly think their little rabbit is aggressive. Which is not so, it is just a hormonal rabbit that needs neutering.
To give your rabbits a long and healthy life, neutering of all rabbits, whatever their sex, is essential.
A male rabbit can be castrated from a young age, providing their testicles have descended – usually about 10 – 12 weeks of age. It is a straightforward operation and you will find, providing there are no problems, recovery will be quite quick. He will need to be kept away from any un-spayed females for at least 6 weeks as he will still be fertile.
The operation for a female rabbit is a different matter as it is considered a major operation. The recovery will need more care, as she will have had her uterus and ovaries removed and her abdomen will be stitched up. If she has a mate, the advice is to keep them separate for a day or so (separated only by some wire mesh so that they can smell each other and lie next to each other) to allow her to recover quietly and safely. It is always important to keep bonded rabbits very close together at all times to avoid any problems occurring when trying to re-introduce them again. Speak to your vet (hopefully a rabbit savvy one) about the operation and all that it entails. As with any operation there will always be certain risks. Talk about these with your vet.
Hopefully you will choose to get a pair of rabbits from a rescue centre instead. You will find that your rabbits will most likely be already neutered, health checked and vaccinated which is more than you will get from a pet shop or breeder. They can also bond a pair for you in a safe environment. Saving you the worry of doing it yourself. There are lots of good rescues around the country. Check out www.rabbitrehome.org.uk and see what is available in your area before thinking of buying a rabbit. You could make a huge difference to a pair of previously unwanted rabbits by offering them a safe and loving home.