Neutering Bunny

A few months ago we made the decision to get our male rabbit, Bunny, neutered. He was around 17 months old then. To be quite honest with you, I never thought I would agree to such a procedure. After all, it is quite unnatural and the animal has to go through unnecessary surgery as well as endure a stressful situation where it is at a hospital without anyone familiar around him. I also didn’t like the idea of causing pain to our sweet Bunny, who wouldn’t ever think of harming anyone.

Bunny used to endlessly circle the pants and tried to grab them. While that was cute to watch, his behavior here was actually quite aggressive and has since stopped.

When we first adopted Bunny, he was obviously used to staying in his cage all day. He also had diarrhea and, as we later found out, mites. Most of the day he would sit and rest, with a few moments of happy jumping in between. At that point, he was also very affectionate and cuddly. As soon as he was feeling better, though, he started aggressively marking his territory by spraying all over the house on the carpet and leaving droppings everywhere. Especially when people came over. He also began to hump everyone and everything and wasn’t able to enjoy simple grooming, cuddling, or play sessions without feeling the urge to try and reproduce. At one point we could barely walk around the room without having to run away from a love-crazy rabbit, so he spent a lot of time in his cage (which we still had back then) when he could have been out and about. So basically, his behavior eliminated all chances of companionship and bonding between us and made his life more difficult.

When we finally found a vet who would see him (which is a whole new story; vet’s here don’t seem to know much about rabbits), she recommended neutering Bunny for medical reasons as well. Our own research confirmed that female rabbits have a high risk of developing cancer when they are not spayed and that a male rabbit’s testosterone suppresses the immune system and generally shortens the lifespan of the rabbit producing it. We found that a male bunny may live a longer, more peaceful life if he is neutered.. So for the sake of everyone’s happiness and a harmonious family life, we decided to go through with it.

One Monday morning we dropped Bunny off at the animal hospital, along with his favorite vegetables, hay, and a familiar towel (Bunny loves towels). As opposed to humans, who may not be allowed to eat before a surgery, rabbits actually need to eat prior to surgery to keep the gastrointestinal tract going and therefore speed up recovery. Also, rabbits lack the vomiting reflex, so choking on vomit during surgery is not a concern. If your vet asks you not to feed your bun before surgery, better cancel the appointment and find someone more knowledgeable! Also make sure the doctor will provide pain medication after the procedure. Rabbits that are in pain may not eat as usual, which can become life-threatening quickly.

A few hours after dropping him off, we received a call from the vet. Apparently, they could not find one of his testicles, but they could try to locate it inside him. Since we had already come this far, we agreed. The neutering, which was supposed to be performed with only a small incision in the scrotum, now turned into an abdominal surgery. Poor Bunny!

After the surgery the doctor gave us a call and told us that she was 90% sure that she removed both testicles. Which means he may still be able to reproduce if he tried (but he hasn’t since). Bunny was doing well, had already woken up and eaten some of the food that we had provided. We were allowed to pick him up a couple of hours later. What a sight he was! Imagine a rabbit high on drugs! He looked like he had gone out drinking all night and now had a huge hangover.

Bunny had 2 small cuts that were glued together. His eyes were sensitive to light. He couldn’t hop in a straight line, but he had to be confined anyway. Resting was important for a speedy recovery. The doctor gave us 1 week’s worth of pain medication and 2 weeks’ worth of antibiotics, both to be given orally. That meant we had to somehow make Bunny take fluid medicine 1-3 times a day for two weeks. We had to be very creative with this one… At first he simply let me spray it in his mouth. That stopped very quickly. Next, I added it to his food. He ate it at first, but simply refused soon after. Then I held him tight, opened his mouth, and slowly sprayed it in…until he refused to swallow. The medication ended up all over his fur. That’s when I realized that he would have to clean himself eventually. How does he do that? By licking the medication off. Problem solved.

Bunny overseeing his kingdom.

Bunny recovered very quickly and without any complications. All of his “bad”behavior has stopped. He uses his litter box. He only marks his territory by rubbing his chin on items (no spraying anymore). He is calm, but still adventurous and curious, cuddly, but still independent. Sometimes when he is close to our feet (which used to be a trigger for his humping) it looks like he is thinking about it, but can’t quite remember what he’s supposed to do or why. So he doesn’t do anything. The only thing negative I noticed since his neutering is that his happy jumps have become slightly less frequent. But seriously, Bunny can now run around freely, he is a part of the family, and he can enjoy his life without urges that he wouldn’t ever be allowed to satisfy anyway.

I would do it again if I had to.

There is a great article on neutering and spaying that helped us prepare and gave us valuable information. You can find it here. By the way, the whole thing cost about $160.

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Author: Bunny Approved

16 Comments

  1. peggy
    peggy On July 10, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Thank you so much for this info…. I bought a female rabbit in November that is a male got my female pregnant that I already had…If all that makes since any way I don’t want to isolate him all his life ….I want him to be able to run and play with the female I have….But was a little undecided about the medicine part…..

    • bunnyapprovedblog
      bunnyapprovedblog On July 10, 2012 at 8:35 pm

      Oh my, that is quite a story! What did you do with all the babies?
      Every surgery has its risks, as we all know, but it was a good decision. The medication made Bunny a bit sleepy and dizzy, but only for a couple of days. The article linked above in the post actually says that “If no pain medications are going to be given to your rabbit, you should probably seek a different vet!”, I know I wouldn’t want to have to recover from surgery without some pain meds! :)

  2. Miros
    Miros On July 13, 2012 at 11:17 am

    We have a male rabbit that needs to be neurtered but don’t know where to take him to get this done. How do you find a rabbit vet that we can trust? We live in the Valley, McAllen, Texas

    • bunnyapprovedblog
      bunnyapprovedblog On July 14, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      The House Rabbit Society has a great list of vets organized by state. You can find their list right here. A list of vets in general can be found here. If none of them are close to you, call several vets in your area and ask them if they treat rabbits. Most of them probably won’t, but you can ask them who they would refer you to. If one particular vet is recommended more than once, that person may be a good bet. Once you find someone willing to see your rabbit, ask them how many other rabbits they treat every year. How many successful neuter/spay surgeries have they done? Do they give rabbits pain medication (they should)? Do they require the rabbit to fast prior to surgery (if yes, that’s a red flag; rabbits should never fast for any reason)? Are you allowed to take your rabbit home the same day (it will recover faster in familiar surroundings)? Those are just some questions you could ask. I know it’s difficult to find a vet. Ours actually requests that we tell her on the phone when something is wrong with Bunny, so she can research it before we come in. :( Hope this helps!

  3. gina
    gina On July 25, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    I just moved to Wilmington with my bunny. What vet in the area is bunny approved?

    • bunnyapprovedblog
      bunnyapprovedblog On July 25, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      Great, we’ve got bunny-neighbors! We go to http://myrtlegroveanimalhospital.vetstreet.com and we are happy with the main (female) doctor and the general staff (they did his neutering, too). Not so much with the older man who temporarily filled in for her while she was on vacation, though, but he’s not usually there. They don’t get a whole lot of rabbits, but are the most qualified in the area. I think the next doctor is 2 hours away.

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  6. jessica
    jessica On January 4, 2013 at 6:49 am

    did you pick him up right after the surgery or did they keep him a while?

    • bunnyapprovedblog
      bunnyapprovedblog On January 4, 2013 at 7:49 am

      We picked him up after 2-3 hours of them monitoring his behavior. He was fine and ate the food we had brought with him from home, so they released him.

  7. JamieTheobald
    JamieTheobald On March 4, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Okay, so I just got my male rabbit neutered Friday and after reading this I have some worries. First of all he went through his surgery without any problems but I was told to take his food and water away from him at midnight the night before, which I didn’t think anything of at the time. Before the surgery though, they told me they gave him a supplement. Now, four days later he is still trying to hump anything that moves. Is this normal, like does it take a few days for the hormones to level out or do I need to get a hold of my vet? Also when we got him home that night, he was loopy and slept most of the day. Is this normal? If not, I want to find a different vet to take my female to.

    • Bunny Approved
      Bunny Approved On March 4, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      Jamie, The humping and the loopy behavior are normal! It may take up to 6 weeks for the humping to stop and until then he might still be able to reproduce, too, so better keep him from the female for now. Unless you want bunny babies. ;) The drugs they gave him were probably pretty good… It’s not surprising that he was sleepy. Did they give you pain medication for now? I don’t want to say anything negative about your vet, but to be quite honest, if they told you not to feed him then I’d be a bit concerned. The reason why humans can’t eat before surgery is that we may vomit and inhale food into our lungs. Rabbits cannot vomit, though, and poop will only come out if food comes in, so not eating for many hours may cause indigestion, which could be dangerous. A vet should know that. I’d definitely ask them about this and research a bit more and possibly find someone else for the female.

  8. Katie
    Katie On April 1, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    I have a Netherland Dwarf, he is full grown. He was born June 25th and he weighs 1lb 5 ounces (He was a runt, thats why I got him, he wasn’t suitable for breeding). He does fairly well with his litter training. He doesn’t pee outside of his box but he does poo. I’ve never seen him hump anything and as of now he doesn’t have plans for a girlfriend haha but I am considering getting him fixed. But the fact that he is so small makes me a little freaked out. Do you that could affect it, we have a clinic nearby that treats rabbits and they specialize in neutering and spaying. How important do you think it is to get him fixed?

  9. Katie
    Katie On April 1, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    I have a Netherland Dwarf, he is full grown. He was born June 25th 2012 and he weighs 1lb 5 ounces (He was a runt, thats why I got him, he wasn’t suitable for breeding). He does fairly well with his litter training. He doesn’t pee outside of his box but he does poo. I’ve never seen him hump anything and as of now he doesn’t have plans for a girlfriend haha but I am considering getting him fixed. But the fact that he is so small makes me a little freaked out. Do you that could affect it, we have a clinic nearby that treats rabbits and they specialize in neutering and spaying. How important do you think it is to get him fixed?

    • Bunny Approved
      Bunny Approved On April 1, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      It depends on the rabbit and on you as a family. If he is aggressive, humps everything he sees, and marks the house, then it would be a good idea to get him neutered, because he’d be full of raging hormones and in a continuous state of stress. It’s not a nice life when you have “urges” that can never be satisfied. Neutering takes the “urge”. If he has none of those signs, though, then he might be okay. Maybe he simply is less hormonal. Rabbits are supposed to be kept with others, but we know that it isn’t always possible in a family and that sometimes the right partner has to come along. But if you ever want to get him a mate, be it male or female, then he needs to be neutered anyway. The younger the rabbit, the less the risk. Not having him neutered is said to increase the risk of certain cancers, too. This is the case in females more than in males, but still. We decided for Bunny not to take the chance. If you have a competent doctor around, why not ask for their opinion?

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