Find out how to get involved in this year’s Rabbit Awareness Week 2023 – Neutering: Protect and Prevent
That well-known phrase ‘breeding like rabbits’ certainly has a ring of truth. The RSPCA says: “Rabbits have evolved to reproduce quickly; pregnancies are short, lasting about a month, and with an average litter size of five to eight kits (baby rabbits). Rabbits can then become pregnant again within hours of giving birth. All these factors combined means that a doe (female rabbit) can produce approximately 30 young in a single breeding season!”
With so many unwanted rabbits currently waiting for new homes at rescue centres, neutering your bunnies is not only an important responsibility, but it also provides your pets with a whole host of health and wellbeing benefits.
To raise awareness of those benefits, this year’s theme for Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) 2023, which is runs from 26 to 30 June, is ‘Neutering: Protect and Prevent’.
Neutering for a long and healthy life
Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund (RWAF), a charitable organisation that works to ensure all pet rabbits in the UK are cared for with understanding, insight and kindness, states: “Neutering – it’s not just about babies… it’s vital for a long and healthy life. It’s important to your rabbits’ welfare that they live in pairs or groups, and neutering allows them to do this. It prevents life-threatening health problems (especially in female rabbits) and, of course, prevents unwanted pregnancies.”
Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) is brought to bunny lovers across the nation by Burgess Excel, alongside our charity partners: Wood Green Animal Shelter, RSPCA, Blue Cross, Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund (RWAF), and our newest partner – Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare
Join our Excel bunnies, Hayley and Binky, to find out more
Burgess Pet Care Digital Marketing Executive, Kealy Guest, says: “This year’s action-packed event will feature loads of great information, including blogs and videos from vets and rabbit experts. Join our Excel bunnies, Hayley and Binky, throughout the week as we explore neutering and all things rabbit welfare-related on our social media channels.”
Kealy continues: “We’ll also be working closely with veterinary practices across the UK who may be running special events for this year’s RAW event, so check with your local vet and ask if they’re getting involved.”
Neutered bunnies make great companions
Dr Suzanne Moyes, in-house vet at Burgess Pet Care, which has been leading RAW since 2006, says: “The Rabbit Action Awareness Group (RAAG), which campaigns to improve the welfare of pet rabbits, decided to adopt neutering for the theme of this year’s RAW campaign, as we want to raise awareness of its benefits among owners. As well as the health benefits, neutered rabbits are generally calmer too. For example, if you have indoor rabbits, you’ll find that neutered bunnies are less likely to exhibit marking behaviours around the home.”
Alison Speakman, President at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), which endorses RAW, adds: “The BSAVA is once again delighted to support RAW and the important theme of the awareness of neutering. Rabbits are wonderful sociable pets and thrive in the companionship of other rabbits, but neutering is a critical part of responsible rabbit ownership and welfare to prevent unwanted litters and protect against diseases of the reproductive tract.”
NEUTERING FACT FILE
- Neutering is the act of removing reproductive organs. This is known as spaying for females and castrating for males.
- Neutering not only prevents breeding and unwanted litters, but also prevents diseases linked to reproductive organs. Around 90% of unneutered female rabbits develop cancer of the womb by the age of five.
- Neutering helps to promote harmonious relationships between bonded pairs.
- Female rabbits reach sexual maturity between four to six months of age and are usually spayed when they are around four to five months old.
- Male rabbits reach sexual maturity at around three months and can be castrated as early as 10 to 12 weeks. However, they can remain fertile for up to six weeks, post castration, so should be kept apart from unneutered female rabbits during this period.
KEEP YOUR NEWLY NEUTERED BUNNIES CLOSE TOGETHER BUT SAFELY APART WITH A RUNAROUND BONDING WALL. This mesh partition divides your run, allowing your buns to see, smell and sit with each other, while keeping a safe and secure divide between them.
Neutering your rabbits – FAQs
Q: What are the key benefits of neutering rabbits?
A: Animal charity Wood Green advises: “If you love rabbits, remember it’s best they live as a pair to keep them happy and healthy. The best mix is a male and female, but make sure they’re neutered. Benefits of neutering include:
- Helping prevent uterine cancer in females, which they are very prone to from the age of four years.
- Reducing the early signs of fighting.
- Stopping male rabbits spraying over their enclosure, their companion, and you.
- A much higher success rate when bonding.
- Stopping females from experiencing phantom pregnancies, which can be stressful for them.
- A much higher success rate when bonding, if you’re planning on introducing more than one pair of rabbits.
- Preventing unexpected/unwanted babies.
- Helps with litter training.
Q: What age can rabbits be neutered?
A: Veterinary charity PDSA advises: “Most female rabbits can be neutered from around five months old, but giant breeds take longer to mature, so may be as late as eight months. Male rabbits can be neutered as early as 10 weeks. Rabbits are able to get pregnant at around three months old, so males and females must be kept separate from this age (ideally a bit before), until after they have been neutered. Male rabbits can remain fertile for up to six weeks after they have been castrated, but females are sterile immediately.”
Q: How do I choose the right vet to neuter my rabbits?
A: RWAF advises: “It’s important to choose a suitable veterinary practice to neuter your rabbits. Like any other specialist field, vets vary in their interests and expertise in rabbit medicine. Check out RWAF’s choosing a good vet page.
Q: How do I care for my rabbits before and after the operation?
A: Wood Green advises: “Going into a vet practice can be very stressful for pet rabbits. To help reduce this, you can take some of their bedding with them that has their scent, which can then be placed in the hospital cage. Rabbits must have plenty of hay and fresh food available pre and post op. Rabbits must continue to eat to maintain their gut movement.
“Once your rabbits return to their enclosure, it can be a good idea to offer a soft, warm area for them to rest. Using some towels and even a snuggle-safe heat pad placed within their enclosure can be ideal.”
Make more Room for Rabbits
Their home needs to be tall enough for them to be able to stand up fully without their ears touching the roof and to lie fully outstretched in any direction, to take a number of consecutive hops, and to run, jump, explore and forage and do all the things that come naturally to bunnies. As social creatures, rabbits should always be kept in pairs or small groups.
Their hutch should be permanently attached to a larger space within which they can exercise freely. This could be a safe bunny-proofed room indoors, or a large run outdoors. The housing itself should be big enough to allow your rabbits to make at least three hops. It’s recommended it is a minimum of 3m x 2m x 1m tall.
Your rabbits should also have full access to their exercise area at all times so they can run around as they would in the wild.
In the wild rabbits are prey animals so it is important that they feel safe. Your rabbits’ housing should have safe hiding places so that they can escape if they feel scared. Make sure you have a secure shelter with plenty of soft, safe bedding and dust-free hay.
Your rabbits will also need access to an area where they can go to the toilet. This should be separate to the sleeping areas, and you can use newspaper, hay/straw and/or a paper based non-expanding litter.
It’s important to provide enrichment toys for your rabbits. Tunnels, platforms, as well as at least one hiding place per rabbit with two entrances/exits work well.
Your rabbits should have a constant fresh supply of good-quality feeding hay, such as Excel Feeding Hay with Hedgerow Herbs, placed in hay racks and areas that are separate to the bedding area. There should also be fresh, clean water constantly available.
Here’s some more useful information to help you create the best possible home – with plenty of room to roam, forage, tunnel, stretch, leap and binky – for your beloved buns:
92% OF UK VETS RECOMMEND OUR BURGESS EXCEL SMALL PETS RANGE.
CARE MORE Find lots of useful advice on caring for your rabbits from Burgess, the pet experts. Training, nutrition, grooming and general care, it’s all here >>
Rabbits are herbivores and need a plant-based diet with lots of fibre to keep their digestive system healthy. Along with their rabbit nuggets and a few healthy treats make sure your rabbits have unlimited access to good quality, dust extracted feeding hay and fresh grass to graze on. Check out our tasty nugget varieties specially created for junior and dwarf rabbits, indoor bunnies, golden oldies, adult rabbits – there’s even a light recipe for buns who are watching their weight!
Win big prizes with our Rabbit Awareness Week competition
To celebrate Rabbit Awareness Week 2023, Burgess Excel and Excel Runaround are pleased to offer you a discount on your small animals! Hop on over to our website from 26th-30th June for all your rabbit deals.
Celebrate everything Rabbit Awareness Week by entering our fantastic competition worth over £250! This year we have some great prizes from Burgess Excel, Excel Runaround and Adventure Pods that will be amazing additions to your rabbit’s world.
T&C’s apply, UK entries only, competition ends 30th June 11:59pm
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