It is common to think about getting your pet cat or dog desexed, however many people are unaware that getting their pet rabbit desexed is an option and an increasingly routine procedure.
There are many reasons to desex your rabbit. Two of the most common reasons people choose to desex their rabbit (aside from preventing breeding) are to prevent unwanted behaviours and to prevent serious disease.
Many owners of rabbits will notice that as their bunny reaches sexual maturity (around 5-9 months old depending on breed) their pet’s behaviour will start to change. Rabbits of both genders will often start to show sexual behaviours such as territorial aggression. Two rabbits of the same gender that have grown up together and got on well, may suddenly have dangerous fights. Males will often start to urine mark, and rabbits of both genders may show copulatory (sexual) behaviour. Desexing before these behaviours start will often help to prevent them, although sometimes two rabbits of the same gender will not be able to safely live together after maturity even if they are desexed, because of fighting. Most pet rabbits are happiest when kept in a male female pair (with one or both animals desexed to prevent unwanted pregnancies).
In female rabbits, cancer of the uterus is a life threatening and extremely common disease. It has been reported that 60% of entire (non-desexed) females over the age of 4, will have uterine cancer and 75% of rabbits over 7 years old will have it. For this reason, if you are keeping a female-male pair of rabbits and only wanting to desex one to prevent mating, it is always best to desex the female, as desexing a female can extend their life significantly.
Although there is a higher risk of anaesthetic complications in rabbits due to their unique airways and digestive tracts, the risks outweigh the benefits, particularly for female rabbits.