Last updated on December 4th, 2018 at 09:30 am
One of the main reasons why man domesticated rabbits is due to their prolific reproduction ability that ensured he or she had a readily available food source. However, owing to their ability to provide good company, they are now also kept as much-loved pets.
Differences between neutering and spaying
Neutering refers to surgical sterilization of male animals i.e., castration or orchiectomy (testicle removal) while spaying is surgical sterilization of female animals often by ovariohysterectomy (removal of the uterus and ovaries or female reproductive organs).
Both these two terms refer to animal surgical sterilization and, in some instances, the word neutering can mean ‘fixing’, or de-sexing both male and female animals.
Finally, an intact animal is often used to mean an unaltered animal with no relevant organ or partly destroyed or removed such as being spayed or neutered.
Presence of scars in the abdomen or scrotum is often used to determine if your rabbit has been neutered or not. However, some vet may do it in a way you may not notice. A certificate can also be issued after this procedure.
Why neuter – benefits
Unwanted pregnancies and offspring
Their high reproductive power will overwhelm the need for pet rabbits. You do not want to end up with unwanted pregnancies or a litter which you cannot raise. Sometimes, sexing error as you re-home them can also lead to unwanted pregnancies and kits. Remember one rabbit can produce as many as 1300 kits in a year. 
There is already a burden on most rescue centers and shelters. These pets cannot be set free to the field, wild or forest as they will not last long. You do not want to end up abandoning your pets since they are too many as this will make them starve, sick, be preyed on or even die.
Neutering health benefits
It will extend their lifespan to 8 – 12 years or about 3 years more and reduce the possibilities of reproductive system related disease and infections.
Surgical removal of ovaries reduces chances of uterine, ovarian and mammary cancer and other infections or conditions while removal of testicles reduces testicular cancer and infections  such as orchitis/epididymitis. By 5 years, about 80% of does not neutered develop uterine cancer. 
Also, does are at risk of developing other conditions related to their reproductive system including pyometra and endometritis (the uterus gets filled with pus and gets inflamed respectively), uterine polyps and endometrial hyperplasia (uterus lining thickens), among others.
Neutering and spaying can help reduce sexual-related behaviors, making them better and friendly pets, i.e., get rid of some undesirable behaviors that a pet rabbit should not possess.
Spaying and territory marking
To begin with, males will be more relaxed, happier and friendly. It helps eliminate the urine spaying behavioral problem that is often noted in intact bucks. They spray or scatter feces as a way of marking their territory. .
Mounting (humping) incidences will also be reduced. Some intact does can also spay once they reach sexual maturity.
Aggression is higher in intact rabbits and lowers in altered ones. For instance, unaltered females may have pseudo-pregnant (false pregnancies) be very aggressive. They may grunt, growl, scratch, box, bite or attack owner, other rabbits or pets.
However, both intact female and males can show these aggressive behaviors and it can also lead to injuries and wounds. As part of behavioral changes, intact bunnies tend to refuse to be held, use littering trays, and would want to escape.
Additionally, neutering helps them to be less destructive, i.e., to chew and dig less and bond much easily. Female particularly are fond of digging as well as barbering or fur pulling if not spayed.
Finally, there is the benefit of housing two rabbits together, them being easier to litter train, and reducing smelly hutches (common in uncastrated bucks that spray urine).
Cons of neutering – it is not natural
The benefits are immense as noted i.e., looking on the neutering rabbits’ pros and cons, the cons have it. On the downside, neutering, being unnatural, may prevent a rabbit from showing its full natural behavior including breeding.
However, domestication itself prevents them from being in their natural environment. Domestication, even though not natural increases a rabbit’s longevity, protects it from predators, illnesses, and these benefits outweigh domestication or neutering.
When do spay or neuter rabbits?
Neutering should be done immediately after puberty has begun. Typically, males are neutered when they are 3-6 months while females when they are 6-8 months.  However, this will depend on how quickly a certain breed matures and some vets might neuter males once their testicles descend at about 10-12 weeks. 
It is done after the onset of puberty since, at this time, surgery is likely to be less problematic. For instance, female rabbits that have not reached puberty may have small uterine horns making it hard to find them. Similarly, in males, the operation is easier and has a lesser anesthesia risk.
On the other hand, mature does may have fat on their abdomen making it also hard to locate the uterus. The procedure is riskier to rabbits above 2 years and requires bloodwork and a health check. At about 6 years, the anesthesia and surgery present more risks.
Look for behaviors such as circling of legs, honking, humping, spaying, among others to know your rabbit is in puberty.
What if you have one rabbit?
We do not recommend keeping one rabbit as it is bound to be alone since they often live in colonies. However, if such is the case, you may not need neuter your male buck if it does not show any behavioral problems we have noted. Incidences of testicular cancer are often low.
However, does living alone need to be spayed since uterine cancer has a high prevalence as they get older especially as from 3 years onward.
The average cost will be will depend on where you go. Neuter and spay clinics may charge you averagely $100 – $125 while others may be cheaper asking $50-$75. The national average price in the US is about $250.
In the UK, a rough estimate is about £60-100 for female spaying and £50-80 for male neutering. Try looking for a cheap rabbit neutering service near you.
Rabbit neutering procedure
Before neutering, get the right vet who has experience in neutering both sexes and knowns postoperative care protocols such as the use of heat pads, monitoring equipment, warm fluid therapies, pain-relieving drugs, the right anesthesia and so on.
Surgery is done under general anesthesia to minimize pain. Normally, it can be injectable and gas anesthetics, as well as some pre-medications pain, relieve or any other type your vet may recommend. Also, go for a vet who has done so many neuters to specifically rabbits.
Once you have the date of operation, your vet may conduct blood tests. You are not supposed to change your pet’ diet a week prior to the surgery, and you should not starve them. Rabbits do not vomit, unlike humans, therefore, you do not have to starve them. Give them the recommended diets especially the ones you have been feeding them on.
Rabbit spay procedure – female neutering
Before the surgery, the abdomen will be shaved, the skin disinfected (scrubbed), and covered with a sterile material except on its head and place of surgery.
The incision is done through the skin to the abdomen, reproductive system blood vessel ligated(tying off) and “ligatures will also be placed caudal to (after) the cervices and the reproductive tract will be removed.” 
Once the reproductive system has been removed, muscles, subcutaneous and skin will each be sutured.
It begins with preparation for surgery – shaving and scrubbing (disinfection) of skin around testicles. Afterward, an incision is made, the spermatic cord is ligated, and it is testicle removed. A second testicle may be removed through the incision or a second one made on the second testicle.
Depending on incision size, it can be closed with tissue glue, sutured or left open.
Rabbit neutering aftercare
Immediately after surgery, the rabbit should remain in a quiet warm place where its vital signs can be monitored. Once it stabilizes, you may be allowed to go home with your pet. Most rabbits will go home within 24 hours after the surgery.
Once you arrive at home, you should give them a warm hutch with comfortable bedding such as Vetbed or a towel as well as a clean littering tray.
After 10-14 days, the sutures are supposed to be removed and bandaging may be necessary if your rabbit chews sutures.
Ask for pain medications if your vet does not give you. He may also recommend antibiotics to reduce the chances of bacterial infections. Other aftercare routines may include:
- Monitor appetite. It is normal for him or her not to eat the night after surgery. If he spends more than 24 hours without eating, contact your vet to avoid other problems such as GI stasis. Males may eat after coming home while the female will want to be left alone and not eat at all.
- Stick to their normal diet, including leafy greens and some treats such as non-leafy vegetables and fruits. Monitor their stool to ensure it is normal, as well as urination.
- Check the place of incision twice a day to ensure there is no discharge, swelling, redness or bleeding. Bruising and swelling at the place of the incision is ok including on the scrotum. 
- After surgery, separate neutered males form females for at least three to four weeks as they can remain fertile for up to 4 weeks.
- If you have the same sex rabbits and they were neutered at the same time, you should keep them together.
- Discourage exercising them especially jumping, running, hoping, or playing hard to avoid possible injuries and stress on the healing incisions.
- Do not pick them up unnecessarily
- Monitor their behavior after 2 weeks to 2 months since sex hormones may linger longer in their blood.
After neutering you can carefully introduce a new partner. Some rabbits may accept them while others may not especially if they did not grow together. It is a good practice to put a neutered male and female in a single hutch.
Initially, the surgical procedure presented anesthetic risks but the advance in medicine has reduced these risks. Work with a vet who has experience in rabbit surgery and medicine. Mortality rate should be less than 0.1% due to anesthesia if done by a knowledgeable vet 
However, older rabbits or sickly ones may increase the risks associated with sterilization. Discuss with your vet if your bunny is over 3 years or has obesity, dental disease, snuffles or other conditions.
Possible side effects of this procedure include
- Postoperative GI stasis and anorexia – The pain and aftercare following surgery may make your rabbit lose appetite thus not eat. This will lead to ileus among other problems. Let the rabbit remain in the hospital until it can eat and pass fecal pellets normally.
- Weight gain – Neutering predisposes rabbits to obesity and weight gain. Workaround your diet if you notice this problem.
- Wound complication – rabbits may interfere with the wound due to surgery such as chew and pull out stitches. This can be dealt with using surgical glues or internal sutures.
- Also, lingual herniation has been noted in a few rabbits, reaction to suture material, internal bleeding, and infections.
Neuter rabbit for free or cheap rabbit neutering near me
Where can I get my rabbit neutered for free? You do not expect to free or cheap rabbit neutering near you easily. However, it is not impossible.
There are times when various animal rescue centers, shelters, and animal-human societies, and clinics offer free spay and neuter clinics in various regions (counties, cities or regions).
All you need is to be alert and subscribe to notification your local rescue centers, shelters, rabbitries, and various rabbit and animal association and be ready when they announce.
After neutering, watch for any signs of depression, lethargy, abnormal behavior, pain, loss of appetite, diarrhea, general weakness and report to your vet if you notice any.