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Fix That Bunny

When being conscientious about the pet overpopulation, don’t forget to spay or neuter your pet rabbit. Altering rabbits can reduce hormone-driven behavior such as lunging, mounting, spraying, and boxing. Spaying females can prevent ovarian, mammarian, and uterine cancers, which can be prevalent in mature does. Also, rabbits reproduce faster than dogs or cats and are the third-most surrendered animal to shelters.

Spay or neuter surgery carries a one-time cost that is relatively small when one considers its benefits. It's a small price to pay for the health of your pet and the prevention of more unwanted animals.

Spay or Neuter my Rabbit?!

by Dana Krempels, Ph.D.
Department of Biology
University of Miami, FL

Without question! Your rabbit will reach sexual maturity anywhere between the age of 3 to 8 months. Once the hormones start flowing, expect to see behavioral changes. Some might be cute, and others unpleasant. A rabbit reaching sexual maturity can be expected to exhibit

- loss of good litter box habits
- aggressive lunging and biting
- territorial biting/nipping
- growling
- circling and honking
- destructive chewing
- spraying urine
- destructive digging

Because un-altered rabbits often mount one another endlessly due to sexual frustration (and to establish dominance), same sex pairs who tolerated each other as babies will often begin ferocious fighting upon reaching sexual maturity. This can result in very serious injury.

Opposite sex pairs will begin reproducing as soon as they mature. In one year, a single pair of rabbits and their un-altered offspring are capable of producing more than 2000 rabbits! You may think you can find homes for your bunny's babies, but we have seen far too many abandoned and dumped pets to think that this is a realistic hope. And for every one produced by a casual breeder, another is put to death at an animal shelter, because there are simply not enough homes for all of them.

Unspayed female rabbits have a very high risk of uterine, ovarian and mammary cancers. Some reports state that more than 80% of unspayed female rabbits will develop uterine/ovarian cancer by the age of three years.

Upon reaching sexual maturity, male rabbits often begin displaying mounting behavior (on your shoes, the cat, stuffed toys, your leg, your sleeping head...), marking territory with urine and producing a pungent odor. Testicular cancer, while less often reported, does occur in males.

How can spaying/neutering help?
1. Rabbits who are spayed (females) or neutered (males) are much less likely to display unpleasant hormonally-induced behaviors.

2. Rabbits who are spayed or neutered produce less odor, due to lower sex hormone levels.

3. Rabbits who are spayed/neutered and housed indoors live much longer than those who are not. "Intact" rabbits live an average of three to six years. The average spayed/neutered house rabbit lives 7.9 years. Many live 10 years or more. (The record is 18 years!)

4. Rabbits who have been spayed/neutered can live with a rabbit companion of the opposite sex without the danger of unwanted litters. Rabbits of the same sex can more easily learn to get along without fighting. Rabbits are highly social, affectionate creatures, and they thrive in the company of other rabbits. (These must be carefully introduced, to avoid fighting. The safest option is to allow your rabbit to choose his/her own partner from your local rabbit rescuer, since most rabbits are very choosy about the company they keep!).

5. Rabbits who are spayed/neutered will never contribute to the terrible domestic rabbit overpopulation problem. Thousands of rabbits are abandoned every year, when they outgrow their Easter Bunny cuteness. You will never have to worry if your rabbits offspring will suffer a terrible death after being abandoned in the wilds of suburbia, being dumped at a pet store to be sold as snake food or being euthanized at an animal shelter if you don't contribute to this problem.

And just so you know....
1. Spaying/neutering your companion will NOT make him/her "fat and lazy." Lack of exercise, wrong foods and boredom will do that.

2. Your rabbit's endearing qualities will NOT change. His/her unacceptable, hormonally induced behaviors usually will. The earlier you spay/neuter (3-5 months for males, 5-8 months for females), the less changes you will notice in your rabbit's behavior.

3. Our domestic rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are derived from an ancient line of the wild European rabbit. European rabbits live in warrens (a series of underground tunnels excavated by family groups) in an established territory. A domestic rabbit who has been abandoned in a park that looks inviting and safe to a human has been sentenced to a cruel death: s/he has no warren in which to hide from predators or from the elements; s/he has no family, and if there are resident feral rabbits in the area, s/he will most likely be attacked ferociously because she is not a member of the warren. If s/he survives the threat of predators, cars, humans running their dogs and other immediate dangers, s/he will soon succumb to parasites, disease and starvation. Turning a rabbit loose in a wild area is not much different from turning a human loose, naked, in the most dangerous neighborhood in town. Don't consign your rabbit friend to such a fate.

A DOMESTIC RABBIT depends on human care. S/he will die if set loose, no matter how appealing the environment appears to a human.

PLEASE don't abandon your bunny to "the wild" OR to a shelter when he or she matures into an adult. Give him or her a fair chance to be a true companion. You will experience one of the most delightful, intelligent, loyal, affectionate and entertaining friends you will ever know!

THOUSANDS of these wonderful companion animals are euphemized yearly. Be a part of the solution to pet overpopulation and unnecessary euthanasia.

SPAY OR NEUTER YOUR COMPANION RABBITS! Bunny will be healthier. Everyone will be happier

copyright 1998 - Dana Krempels

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