Sterilization of the dwarf rabbit

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Julie Lambert, Paris, France

November 1, 2020


Do you know that it is very important, not to say primordial, to sterilize your rabbit. Didn’t you know that? Well I will explain in this article why sterilizing the rabbit is very important if you don’t want to breed rabbits.
The rabbit is, in its natural state, a prey. So evolution has given the rabbit the ability to reproduce extremely quickly. If you don’t believe me, you might believe the Australian example: In 1859, Thomas Austin, a British hunter and nostalgic for southern Australia, imported 12 pairs of rabbits to this country where rabbits were not present. Fifty years later, 600 million of these animals have colonised 60% of the territory, forcing Australia to build the world’s largest barrier, more than 3,000 kilometres long, to prevent rabbits from reaching cultivated land!

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Pinpin and Pipine ready for cohabitation after sterilization.

Photographed by Vincent Ribet.

01 – Why sterilise?

As you will have understood, rabbits are very active animals in terms of reproduction and this behaviour can have serious consequences on their organism. First of all, it is important to know that an unspayed female rabbit will regularly fall victim to nervous pregnancies, i.e. the rabbit thinks she is pregnant and therefore reacts as such. This situation can lead to cancer or tumours of the uterus, mammary cysts but also digestive problems. In addition, due to its hormonal hyperactivity, the unsterilized rabbit is prone to uterine cancer. According to the latest studies, this would concern 80% of unsterilised domestic rabbits over 5 years old.

As far as the male rabbit is concerned, he has an unlimited sexual appetite. Unspayed, he will regularly want to have sex with everything he has at his disposal, first of all with other rabbits, but if this is not possible, he will want to use cushions, stuffed animals and even you…not very pleasant…not to mention the many courtship parades he will do every day. Moreover his territorial instinct will be at its peak and he will therefore have the annoying tendency to make impressive jets of urine all over your house.

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Pipine on a visit to the vet before sterilization.

Photographed by Vincent Ribet.

02 – Advice on sterilization

Sterilization will therefore make your life easier, but not only. It will also help your rabbit by avoiding the permanent frustration of not having sex, it will make him less aggressive, it will allow him to express his true personality and not the one dictated by his hormones and finally it will allow him to be cleaner. Nevertheless, even if this operation is not especially risky or painful, it is important to know that the operation is irreversible and therefore it is important to think carefully before acting. Finally, for all those who think that sterilising a rabbit is unnatural, I can remind you that having a rabbit live in a house, flat or even a cage and hutch is not natural either. The rabbit is not subject to the climatic and dietary stress that it would have in the wild and which explains, in its natural state, its great sexual appetite.

The advantages of sterilization

  • Avoids health problems specific to rabbits (cancer, tumour, nervous pregnancy…).
  • Limits territoriality problems.
  • Reduces aggressiveness in rabbits.
  • Does not have unwanted litters.
  • Allows cohabitation.
  • Disadvantages of sterilization
  • The operation is irreversible.
  • The costs related to the operation are high (from 100 to 200€ in France).
  • Not being able to breed.
  • Can make some rabbits grow fat without exercise.
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Pipine, two days after sterilization.

Photographed by Vincent Ribet.

03 – Sterilization of the female

The sterilization of your female will be strongly recommended by your veterinarian in order to avoid many diseases, nervous pregnancies, to diminish the territorial instinct and of course to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

The operation consists of an ovariohysterectomy, that is to say a removal of the ovaries. This operation is a routine operation for NAC veterinarians, it is 100% effective both against pregnancy and also against cancer and tumours of the uterus.

04 – Male sterilization

Sterilization of your male will also be recommended by your veterinarian in order to reduce his territorial instinct and his aggressive behaviour due to hormones. The operation consists of removing the inside of the testicles. This is also a routine operation for NAC vets, it is 100% effective against testicular cancer.

05 – Preparing the operation

If you are determined to have your rabbit sterilized, here are a few tips to make sure everything goes smoothly. First of all, you should have a specialised NAC veterinarian who is used to this kind of intervention. He will be able to give you all the right advice.
You should also wait until your rabbit reaches puberty, this age is around 6 months. At this age, your rabbit should normally weigh more than 1kg. You should also ask your vet what type of anaesthesia he uses. For rabbits, gas anaesthesia is a much less dangerous method of anaesthesia. Finally, after the operation, you must keep an eye on your rabbit, give it a clean litter, let it rest and above all check that its transit resumes, even if it has to be force-fed.


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