Thursday, December 31, 2009

Neutering Rabbits

Rabbits become adolescent from 10-12 weeks of age, and at this time they tend to become moody and restless. They start to become more aggressive towards other rabbits and people, and also become less reliable where litter training is concerned. Both males and females may treat a family member of the opposite sex as a surrogate mate, following and circling that person and trying to mate their arms or legs. In male rabbits, courtship can include nipping the surrogate mate.
Neutering is one of the best things you can do for your rabbit. It will ease or illuminate these problems without changing your rabbit’s personality. Your bunny will not realize that anything has changed but the pet will become happier and more relaxed. Neutered rabbits are easier to litter train and their urine and droppings will become less smelly.
Female rabbits should be neutered when they reach 5-6 months old and male bunnies can be neutered as soon as the testicles have descended at around 3-4 months of age. Spaying your female rabbit is extremely important because as many as 85% of adult does die of reproductive cancers if they are not neutered.
It is important to realize that the changes in behavior associated with sexual maturity do not suddenly disappear - female rabbits take a couple of months to generally calm down, and male bunnies may continue to spray for a few months after being neutered. Not all aggression is caused by hormones, a rabbit that has become aggressive due to cruelty or mistreatment will not be cured by surgery, but will need a lot of time and affection before it can trust its new carers.
Neutering is particularly important if you have more than one rabbit. It will of course prevent unwanted pregnancy, and make it possible for two rabbits to live happily together. A neutered pair of bunnies can form a strong bond and often spend a lot of time huddling together and grooming each other. Two bunnies who have grown together (even siblings) can suddenly become hostile and very aggressive towards each other. This can result in serious injury to one or both of the rabbits, and them losing the bond they had forever. Neutering both rabbits can prevent this happening, providing it is done early enough. Neutering after the event may help but there is no guarantee that their friendship will be restored.
Many facets of your rabbit’s sexuality will remain post neutering, but in a gentler more subdued form. The extent of the sexual activity really depends on your rabbit’s personality before neutering. Many neutered rabbits retain a certain amount of sexual interest and may continue some courting behavior - a spayed doe is more tolerant of a buck’s advances than an un-spayed doe will be. Some rabbits lose all interest in sexual activity but their need for cuddles and affection, from humans and play mates alike, remains the same.

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