While humans might put up a few family photos and lock the door to their homes, rabbits have to mark their territory in a much more primal way. While this is natural, it can be difficult for pet owners, especially in the case of rabbits that are kept in the house. As a solution, a lot of bunny owners will have their rabbits neutered; but can a neutered rabbit still spray?
A neutered rabbit should stop spraying, however, this isn’t something that will happen immediately after the procedure has taken place. This is because when a male rabbit is neutered, it can take up to six weeks for his hormones to settle; during this time, he may continue spraying.
That being said, there are males that will carry on spraying even after they have been neutered and while this may be frustrating, there is usually a reason for this. Finding that reason may be a little more complicated, however.
Do Neutered Rabbits Still Spray?
Neutering is a process in which the reproductive organs of an animal are taken away, in the case of males, this is usually the testes. While this might feel like a very invasive procedure, it can have a wealth of benefits for both you and your bunny. You may have also heard the term spaying and while this is a similar procedure, this is the female version so when we talk about neutering, we are referring to male rabbits.
Having your male rabbit neutered will eliminate the risk of testicular cancer and will improve your rabbit’s overall health. In short, this means that he will have a greater life expectancy, and who doesn’t want as many years as possible with their pets?
Furthermore, neutering a rabbit will have a profound effect on his behavior, most notably, he will likely stop spraying. In addition to this, you will notice that, after his surgery, your rabbit will be much less aggressive. This aggression is often as a result of fluctuating hormones and a desire to mate. Where males are housed together, this can cause fights.
If you have a female and male rabbit and want to be able to keep them in the same enclosure, neutering is essential, unless you want to end up with a litter of kits.
Male rabbits will mark their territory using urine which they will spray over anything they want to claim as their own. While rabbits do have scent glands in their chins which they can also use for marking, spraying is also commonly used.
While neutering your rabbit will reduce his hormones and stop him from spraying in the long term, the effects of the operation may not be noticed for some weeks. Therefore, if you have a male who is a bit of a pain when it comes to spraying, you may have to employ a little patience after his surgery while his body falls into line.
Furthermore, once the rabbit has had his operation, there may also be a spike in his level of aggression. This may have to do with his hormones but could also be as a result of being in pain or stressed after the procedure. Your vet will provide you with antibiotics to remove the chance of any infection at the wound site but you should also ensure that your rabbit is kept on his own until he has fully healed.
How To Stop A Male Rabbit From Spraying
Neutering is the best way to stop a male rabbit from spraying and will usually fully eliminate the behavior (once the rabbit’s hormones have fully settled). If for some reason, you cannot or do not want to have your rabbit neutered, then there are a couple of other ways you can try to cull the behavior.
- Keeping intact rabbits in their own cages is a great way to prevent them from spraying. If your rabbit has his own space that is never touched by another, then he won’t have any need to spray. When sharing an enclosure, two rabbits are always going to fight for dominance and marking their territory is one way they will do this.
- When it comes to exercising your rabbit, which is crucial, you could try containing him to one area to avoid having several urine marks around the home. You can buy large rabbit playpens that give your pet the space he needs to hop and run around and any spraying will be confined and therefore, easier to clean.
- While spraying is different to urinating to relief themselves, it can be helpful to litter train your rabbit to contain any pee to one location which makes cleaning up after your pet much simpler.
How Long Does It Take For A Neutered Male To Calm Down?
Many rabbit owners are under the false impression that having their rabbit ‘fixed’ will result in immediate changes. However, they are often left disappointed when their male bunny continues acting in much the same way he did before the procedure.
This is owing to the fact that there is still a considerable number of hormones floating around in his bloodstream. The testicles are responsible for producing certain hormones related to reproduction and removing these glands will stop the hormones from being created. However, any that are already circulating around the rabbit cannot be removed and owners must wait for these to naturally dissipate.
While every rabbit will be different, most owners will find that their pet’s behavior will change between four and six weeks after his surgery. This is even more of an important time frame for those who want to keep their male with a female.
This four to six week period will also allow the remaining sperm to die off. In this time, it is still perfectly possible for a male to mate with a female and impregnate her. If you do not want a litter of baby buns, no matter how sweet they might be, is it crucial that you keep the rabbits apart for this time period.
Reintroducing Bunnies After Neutering
During the time that you will keep your rabbits apart, it is important that they are still able to see and smell one another. If they have been previously kept together, this can bring them great comfort at a time where they may be in pain and more stressed than usual. What’s more, since a rabbit’s scent may change after surgery, this will allow the pair to adapt to the new smells.
Placing the cages side by side will allow the rabbits the best contact without it being dangerous. Even for those that have not previously been housed together, this is a good opportunity for them to get used to one another’s scent.
When it comes to bonding rabbits, we have more detailed information here, however, owners must be aware that this process could take a long time with some pairs and should always be done gradually.