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.
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 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.