Sterilize the dwarf rabbit (info and advice).
As a responsible pet owner, it’s important that you know and understand the topic of spaying or neutering your rabbit, in order to make informed choices. This will allow you to be more confident and always act for the well-being of your friend in every situation.
This article aims to explain the benefits of spaying or neutering if done at the right time of growth and by a specialized veterinarian. It also provides some tips on what to expect during and after the procedure.
When are rabbits considered sexually mature?
Although rabbits are physically able to get pregnant at around 4 months of age, the general rule is to not allow medium-small breeds to mate until they are 6 months old and large to giant breeds until they are 8 months old. Particularly large individuals of giant breeds may not be ready until 10-12 months of age.
How do bunnies begin to show that they are ready to mate?
When they become teenagers, around 3 months old, both males and females start mounting each other. Males also begin to fight with each other. Some of these behaviors are related to the desire to dominate, but largely serve to demonstrate the development of increasing sexuality. However, it is best to avoid rabbits having sex if they have not reached sexual maturity.
The advantages of sterilization or neutralization
There are many benefits to sterilizing a rabbit. I understand that it can be a difficult decision to make. For some, it may seem like cruelty, but if you do not plan on breeding your rabbit, I strongly recommend considering this option.
Here, I will provide you with a list of advantages. In some cases, they can also explain certain behaviors:
It lengthens the life of your rabbit: sterilization allows them to live longer by preventing various urinary tract diseases and reducing the risk of cancer. This is particularly true for female rabbits. As for males, it will prevent them from fighting with others or being more aggressive due to their sexual instincts.
It makes the rabbit more docile and gentle. A sterilized rabbit, as previously mentioned, loses certain aggressive behaviors, making them honestly less destructive and more manageable.
It will be easier to train them to use the litter box correctly and reduce problems related to urination as a sign of territorial marking. It can be a big problem in the long run, especially if you plan to keep your rabbit indoors and let them roam free (which I recommend).
Sterilized rabbits are much easier to live with in pairs or groups because they will not have territorial or reproductive instincts. Although rabbit babies are adorable, you must consider the difficulties in managing such a rapid and numerous reproduction in your home. Remember that, hypothetically, a litter of 12 baby rabbits can be born every month.
Sterilized rabbits help to curb the problem of excessive numbers of specimens. The statistics are clear: rabbits are the third most popular domestic pet after dogs and cats. The interest in these beautiful life companions has led to the same problem that afflicts other species: abandonment. Every day we read about rabbits that have been abandoned and cannot be taken care of. The same thing happens when not all the babies can find a family to welcome them. Sterilization certainly does not exclude but limits this tendency in some way.
At what age to sterilize a dwarf rabbit
For male rabbits, sterilization is recommended between 3 and 5 months of age (starting from when the testicles are likely visible). For females, it is better to wait a little longer and act between 4 and 6 months. In both cases, of course, it is the age at which they usually reach sexual maturity.
My advice is to carefully consider whether to proceed with sterilization at an advanced age, or beyond the recommended age. In this case, it is always better to consult with a specialized veterinarian. Although ideas may differ, when a rabbit has exceeded 2 years of age, a complete check-up is necessary. Beyond 6 years, it becomes very risky. In fact, there are numerous complications that could occur during the operation.
Sterilization or neutralization: the differences
The term “sterilization” is used more appropriately when referring to female specimens. The procedure consists of completely removing the reproductive organs, and the operation takes place through the abdomen. The blood vessels that lead to the reproductive system are closed, and it is completely removed. Then, some stitches are applied.
On the other hand, the term “neutering” is used when referring to the removal of testicles in male specimens. The veterinarian will make an incision in the scrotum and remove the testicles through it. Up to three weeks after the operation, a male rabbit may still have semen in his body. It would be advisable not to let him approach unsterilized female specimens.
Choosing a specialized veterinarian
The most important advice I can give you to ensure that the procedure is carried out correctly and without repercussions is to consult a specialized veterinarian.
By specialized veterinarian, we mean someone who performs these operations frequently. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and make sure they have experience with rabbits before.
If you already know friends who have adopted a rabbit or nearby farms, you can turn to them for advice on who to trust. Alternatively, you can consult the list of specialized veterinarians.
How much does it cost to spay or neuter a dwarf rabbit
At this point, you may be wondering, “How much does a sterilization operation cost?” The costs obviously vary from area to area and depending on the chosen veterinarian. I advise you to ask for the price and what it includes from the beginning. The price normally ranges from 100 to 150 euros. When I had my rabbit sterilized, I spent 100 euros including medication. Please take this information with caution and ask more than one veterinarian for their opinion.
Before the operation
If you have adopted or purchased your rabbit from a breeder or a specialized store, make sure it is not already sterilized or neutered. There should be a small scar near the genital organs.
Try to have your veterinarian explain to you what you can do to prepare your rabbit for the operation. Also, ask how you can alleviate any discomfort it may experience immediately after the procedure. And if it makes you feel more at ease, ask for some additional information on how the operation is performed. This way, you will be aware of the steps and will reduce anxiety.
If you have taken all the necessary precautions: checked that your rabbit’s age is suitable and that the veterinarian has sufficient experience, then don’t worry.
Some people prefer to prepare their rabbits by administering lactic acid bacteria (acidophilus) starting from 2-3 days before. This way, they will be sure that the digestive system is functioning correctly during the operation. It is not necessary or appropriate to change anything, especially not the diet.
After the operation
After the operation, monitor your friend as much as possible to make sure everything is going well: feeding, poop, pee, and play. In the case of a sterilization, ask the vet for information about possible specific painkillers. If you prefer, continue to administer the lactic acid bacteria for a couple of days.
Keep in mind that females also need to be left very calm for at least 4 days. So if she stays in a corner and is not very sociable, know that it is only a temporary state. You shouldn’t disturb her until she wants to. Show her all your affection, pet her, and keep an eye on her, but don’t pick her up.
Regarding neutering, consider that some fluid may leak. Make sure there are no signs of infection at the points; otherwise, contact the vet immediately.
Important advice: after the operation, try to keep the environment as stable and calm as possible. Let your rabbit recover at their own pace and don’t make sudden movements with your rabbit.
If your rabbit opens the stitches, take them to have them closed again. Afterward, make sure this doesn’t happen again by placing a napkin on the pelvis. You can keep it attached with an elastic band, but be careful not to make it too tight so that they can still breathe.
Make sure he has resumed eating
Monitor that your rabbit starts eating from the morning after the operation. The amount of food may be less than usual, but it is essential that they eat at least something. Otherwise, their digestive system could get blocked. Don’t worry and don’t panic: try first with their favorite foods (a piece of banana, parsley…).
If they really don’t eat anything, you can use “forced” nutrition as an extreme solution. Completely blend 1 part of pellets and 2 parts of water (if you want, you can also add probiotics) and give the mix with a syringe without a needle.
Prevention is better than cure: how can you stop rabbits from mating?
Keeping them separated works. However, if you want two opposite-sex rabbits to live and play together, your only option is to sterilize or neuter one of them.
I just seen my rabbits mate. What are the chances that the female will get pregnant?
If one of the two has not been spayed or neutered, the chances as adults are very high. I suggest marking the day on the calendar and giving the female rabbit a safe and separate nest for 28 days from today.