Spaying and Neutering – you might have heard of these before, but they’re more commonly done for dogs and cats. This is the procedure in which the reproductive organs are surgically removed to prevent aggressive behavior and certain diseases. In the Philippines, most rabbit owners and even pet shops don’t know the importance of spaying or neutering a rabbit.
When we had Bonbon, we were unaware of this because at that time, the idea of having rabbits neutered or spayed was almost unknown. After having her for 6 years, she got cancer and we lost her. It was tragic. If only we knew about it, we could’ve gave her more years, healthy ones at that, to live. We ultimately decided that we’d have our other rabbits spayed and neutered to prevent them getting sick like Bonbon. I think it was the best learning experience (but probably the most painful) we got from our time with Bonbon.
You see, when rabbits reach 4 months old, they become more territorial because of their hormones. Some rabbit owners get surprised with the sudden change in behavior as some rabbits can get really aggressive. Whatever happens, please do not hit or punish your rabbit. Be very patient with it. When this time comes, it’s time to visit a rabbit veterinarian to talk about spay or neuter.
At 4 months old, a male rabbit can also impregnate a female rabbit. At this point, it is best to separate them to avoid unwanted pregnancies. It’s also recommended to separate rabbits as their aggressiveness may result in injuries and trauma.
Neutering is done on male rabbits mainly to prevent territorial behavior, like spraying urine to mark their territory, or lunging, scratching or barking when people get near them. Spaying, on the other hand, is done on female rabbits mainly to prevent reproductive cancers. Once a female rabbit reaches 5 years of age, the chances of getting uterine cancer is 80%. With spaying, this could be virtually eliminated. Not only that, but spaying can also decrease their aggressiveness towards humans and to other rabbits.
Neutering and spaying is very important if you want 2 or more rabbits peacefully living together. When rabbits are unaltered, it is impossible to keep them together when they reach maturity. The only way to have 2 or more bunnies happily living together is to get them spayed or neutered. Because we had Burrito and Biiru, as well as Burrito and Barley, spayed and neutered, they became inseparable. Of course, we had to bond them for a couple of days before we could really keep them together. But it was worth it.
Our bunnies never looked so happy. As they say, bonded bunnies will love each other for life.
NEUTERING & SPAYING RABBITS IN THE PH
We had our rabbits operated by Doctor Nielsen Donato of Vets in Practice Animal Clinic in Mandaluyong City and in Fort Bonifacio. He’s very experienced with rabbits and other exotic animals. I think that it’s safe to say that if you’d want to spay or neuter your rabbit here in the Philippines, he’s the perfect doctor to do it.
Just some things to expect.
1) Unlike in other countries, we don’t have the special type of glue that vets use to seal up surgical incisions to prevent rabbits from biting their stitches. Here, the stitches are exposed so there’s a chance of rabbits biting or chewing on them.
2) Because of this, vets here would suggest e-collars. This can be very stressful to your rabbit, but eventually, they will get used to it. Burrito and Biiru got used to theirs after 1 night, but usually, when we can keep a close eye on them, we would remove the e-collar now and then so they can groom and be more comfortable. But when we aren’t around, we kept the e-collars on.
Just a word of caution, be sure to watch over your rabbit post-surgery. Make sure they don’t chew their stitches and that they eat well. We had a very traumatic experience with Bonchon – on the 3rd day after her surgery, we left her for a while and when we came back, we were shocked that she was able to chew on her stitches. When we arrived at the hospital, she went into shock and we lost her. It was so painful and scary. From then on, whenever any of our rabbits underwent spaying or neutering, we kept an eye on them 24/7 until they completely healed.
3) DO give your rabbit food and water before the surgery. It’s a common misconception to allow them to fast before surgery like dogs, but rabbits need to eat to keep their guts going. For Burrito and Biiru, we brought pellets and a banana with us to the vet so they were still eating while we waited for their operation.
4) Bring a light towel or hanky to keep them warm during the ride home. It’s important to not let their body temperature go down. Give them as much warmth as they want. Burrito loved having the comfort of a heat compress wrapped in a towel beside her when she was recovering.
5) Offer your rabbit food once you get home from the surgery. It’s very important to get their gut going. Offer them their favorite treat just to get them to eat. When Burrito got home, the only food that she ate was Basil. We kept on offering her favorite pellets and vegetables for the first few days (of course, hay was available 24/7) until we noticed her eating normally again. You can also offer some recovery food like Critical Care or Complete Care until your little one gets back his or her appetite again.
6) Offer your rabbit water in a bowl or syringe. What we noticed with Burrito was that she drank a lot of water when we hand-fed it to her. So, for the first few days, she drank from a small bowl that we offered a couple times a day.
7) Spaying is a more evasive procedure than neutering. Biiru and Barley recovered really fast – they were back to their hungry and playful selves after 1-2 days, but Burrito took more than that.
8) If you can, ask for pain medications from the vet to take home in case you notice your rabbit to be in pain a day after the procedure. Pain can cause extreme stress to rabbits, and can cause them to refuse to eat.
9) If you notice any negative signs after the procedure, please do not hesitate to contact the vet.
Since a we received a lot of inquiries on the cost of the procedure, we spent a total of P5,875 for Barley’s neuter in 2018. Here’s the breakdown: E-collar small P325, Meloxicam P150, Consultation Fee P500, Enroflaxin Syrup (antibiotics) P250, Castration P4000, Anesthesia/Sedation P500, Meloxicam (take home) P150. You’ll also be asked to get a blood test (around P3,000) to see if your rabbit is healthy enough for the surgery.
There are a lot of things that you should know about spaying or neutering, especially about the pre-care and post-care of your rabbit. Take time to read about it (there are A LOT of sources in the internet) and remember to ask the vet if you have questions!
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