Neutering rabbits never crossed my mind when I bought Babe or during the brief time she had been with me. She kept me too busy to think about anything more than protecting her and my garden. But that was about to change thanks to a vet.
Babe came with a voucher to see the vet for a health check and vaccination against myxomatosis and RHD1.
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease is a viral form of hepatitis that comes in two strains. Both of which are highly infectious, transmitted by blood-sucking insects and fatal.
I never miss a freebie and have witnessed the suffering myxomatosis causes in wild rabbits. I booked my pet rabbit in with the vet before taking her home but had no idea what RHD was.
So, a week after leaving the shop. Babe found herself back in the pet shop, but this time upstairs in the vet’s surgery. After a short wait among the various breeds of cats and dogs, it was our turn to see the vet. A short middle-aged woman with a blunt manner.
Babe had her weight, teeth and eyes checked, followed by the combined myxomatosis and RHD1 vaccination.
Only now was I informed that my pet rabbit still needed protection from RHD2 So, we would have to return in two or three weeks.
Now friends, say the look on my face speaks volumes, just before my mouth speaks my mind. To my mind, I should have given this information at the time of making the appointment.
However, before I could open my mouth, the vet hurriedly explained. Strain 1 and 2 vaccines are incompatible and need administering separately.
Then without taking a breath, she said neutering rabbit Babe would be necessary at six months old. As if I had no choice! I left the consulting room with a bleeding tongue, made an appointment for the RHD 2 vaccination, and left.
Reasons for Neutering rabbits
Now, if necessary, I am not against neutering rabbit Babe, but Babe was alone. She had only been with me for two weeks. And I had no intention of getting her a partner at the time.
The garden was escape-proof, and Babe had my complete attention while she was running around in it. So, if she did get pregnant, it would have to be an immaculate conception.
When I finally cooled down, I put it down to the vet’s unfortunate manner and let it rest. But I decided to research neutering rabbits on the internet.
There were only two valid reasons I could find to have her spayed, unwanted pregnancy and aggression.
Female rabbits can get territorial and aggressive in the spring while nesting, even if they are not pregnant. But researching this one topic led to a mine of information I did not know about my pet rabbit.
So, I was now considering getting Babe a partner. Because I wanted Babe to have a long, happy life, and if she needed a partner, then so be it. But this would mean having her sterilised first.
Babe was back at the vet’s two weeks later, who seemed more amiable. And Babe had her weight retaken without a problem.
But while having the vaccination, she pulled away from the needle and came across the table to me. But, before I could react, she was dragged across the table and pinned down to finish the injection.
I was speechless for the first time in my life! And Babe shot back into her carrier for protection. So, I just shut her in, picked her up and left without saying a word.
Now, Babe and I spent the next six weeks relaxing under the sunshade in the garden, a first for me. I had never enjoyed sitting and doing nothing day after day for so long.
But, with Babe for company and entertainment. The time flew by, and for the first time in years, I was stress-free.
By the last week in September, summer was fading, and Babe was a week away from reaching her sixth month.
Although I was reluctant to have her spayed, I had decided to get her a partner, so it was unavoidable.
But first, I had to find another vet with experience in neutering rabbits to conduct the procedure. Because there was no way, the last vet was laying a hand on Babe again.
But the vet’s most experience in neutering rabbits is part of the pet shop chain where I bought Babe. So, they would be the best, and there was another one four miles away.
But I would need to check it out and see if the staff moved between the two branches.
I went to see them, and the staff were pleasantly helpful and assured me that each practice was independent. Then took me through the procedure and aftercare that my pet rabbit would need.
After that, I made an appointment for Babe to have a pre-op check, confident she would be in safe hands.
Five days later, the young male vet, who would neuter rabbit Babe, gave her the all-clear. So, I could book her in, but still, I held back. There are risks. My main concern is the slim chance the anaesthetic used while neutering rabbits could kill her.
I knew it was irrational to think this way. I had had dogs spayed, horses gelded, and they were all put at risk without a second thought. So, how was neutering rabbit Babe any different?
Later that week, I passed the vet’s and forced myself to make the appointment for Babe’s operation. And found Babe, her perfect partner in the process.
Neutering Rabbits - Babes Operation
The following week, Babe went in for her operation; while at home, I prepared for her aftercare.
I removed the feeding shelf and ramp from the cage and replaced the wood shaving bedding with a Vets Bed. Next, I cleaned the litter tray, but the food and water bowls were already clean!
Then I sat worrying, waiting for the phone call letting me know she had come round and taken some food. Now, I had taken Babe in at nine o’clock that morning. And the phone call to collect her did not come till late afternoon.
So, feeling relieved, I set off to collect Babe, expecting to see her with a bald patch and stitches. But when I went into the consulting room, the only visible damage was a bandage on one of Babe’s ears.
The vet told me the operation had gone well, and she had her ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes taken away. Babe had eaten and had a pain-killing injection.
And then removed the bandage, revealing a bald ear with a puncture wound. I assume I had that look on my face again.
Because the vet hurriedly explained that the best place to put a canular in a rabbit is the ear. And necessary for the operation.
After, the vet instructed me to keep her quiet and not let her stretch, run, or jump. I left with Babe in the pet carrier and an oral pain killer. Only stopping on my way out to arrange her first post-operation check.
At home, a very drugged Babe went into the cage with none of her usual resistance. Where she slept, hardly moving for the next six hours.
Babe finally stirred around eleven pm. Went to her water bowl for an exceptionally long drink, nibbled on some hay, and drank again. Ten minutes later, she went back to the fodder for a proper munch.
Now she was eating and drinking, and I could finally get to bed.
The following day I found Babe back to her old self, looking to come out of the cage. But she had no chance; she should be in there at the very least until her first post-operation check.
Now Babe needed her first dose of pain relief, and this was a first for me. How do I get ten ml of liquid down a rabbit? It is a syringe in the side of the mouth and squirt in dogs and horses, but a rabbit? Well, it might be worth a try.
I opened the cage and was about to get hold of Babe. But she started licking the end of the syringe. So, I slowly squeezed the full dose out as she took it off the tip. So, it was that easy, and another lesson learnt courtesy of my pet rabbit.
Babe Gets Her Way
Unlike “conveyor belt Bob”, who sits munching a hay cookie on my carpet. And discharges an equal amount from the other end. Babe is exceptionally clean and always uses the litter tray.
So, with only her toilet to clean, I had no problem keeping an unhappy Babe behind bars that day.
But the following morning, the day of her first post-operation check. I awoke to find she had raked the content of the litter tray all over the cage. There is no way I could keep her in the cage and clean it.
I had to replace the vet’s bed, and I needed to empty the cage. So, after giving her the pain relief, I let her escape. She sat and watched me sort out the mess, and I knew she would not go back in.
Think pet rabbits are stupid? You had better think again!
That afternoon Babe had the first of three post-operation checks. And her stitches were still in place, with no signs of infection. She spent the next three days quietly in the lounge with side tables on the chairs to stop her jumping.
A nurse conducted her second check, and the wound had knitted, so the danger of infection had passed. But jumping and running were still out of the question. Because the internal damage neutering rabbits causes needed more time to mend.
In the following five days, with less chance of infection. I gave Babe, who had been missing the grass, limited access to the garden. She spent this time quietly grazing and sitting in the fresh air.
At her third inspection, she got the all-clear, and the nurse said she could return to the garden. I did not tell her she had been in the garden already. But just thanked her and left. And Babe got her everyday life back.
My pet rabbit Babe had bounced back from the operation that could have killed her. There are risks besides the anaesthetic, but with proper aftercare, these are minimal.
Make sure your rabbit eats after the operation and continues to do so. If it is not, take it back to the vet. More than twenty-four hours without food could be fatal.
It would be best if you did not let your pet rabbit jump, run, or make it stretch. Please keep it in a small area with nothing to jump on.
Check the stitches are in place and there is no infection at least once a day. If they have broken stitches or the wound is weeping, take them back to the vet.
Besides that, give your pet rabbit plenty of love and sympathy; it is going through a life-threatening ordeal!