If real life pictures of a spay procedure are likely to upset you and your family, please go no further than this photo of a big, very big California girl bun in post-op recovery with a Rabbit Haven volunteer. You can read more about the Spay-A-Thon HERE. There is a slide show as part of the article, I took the photos even though the credit says Rabbit Haven, these things happen.
For those of you who will read on here is the story. You will recall that there was a huge rescue in our area, Aptos to be precise, 114 rabbits all of which were not spayed or neutered. Over the course of the days many were in San Jose and Palo Alto, driven over by intrepid and dedicated volunteers. One of our local vets on hearing of the rescue asked what she could do and the Spay-A-Thon was born. Just to be clear there were also neuters being performed but somehow a Neut-A-Thon doesn't have a ring to it at all. Three rabbit vets, Drs. Hawklyn, Stern and Sollenberger along with vet techs volunteered their time and expertise at the Santa Cruz Animal Shelter on 12/4/11, where two of the rooms were turned into a surgery. Rabbit Haven volunteers took care of the rabbits after their operations. Anesthetized rabbits can not be put back in a cage until they are awake enough to hop or they can hurt themselves trying.
Rabbits are anesthetized using a gas and mask, they are also attached to a heart monitor. The gas smells funny to them, but only briefly.
The abdomen is shaved clean and carefully sterilised.
Everything is kept very sterile. The incision for a spay can very tiny, leaving a barely visible scar and lessening pain and healing time.
Bunnies are kept warm and comfortable while they wake up. The females received subQ fluids to help with their recovery. To aid with waking the bunnies need to be stimulated, touched and petted on their ears and face, they need to be more upright than not.
Why do rabbits need to be spayed and neutered? I'm so glad someone asked that question. The answers are multiple. The first answer is that rabbits have an exetremely rapid rate of reproduction. The gestation time is about a month and a female rabbit can get pregnant immediately after giving birth. Sexual maturity and ability to breed occurs between 3 and 8 months. Doing the the multiplication on this problem yields that a female rabbit and her offspring could, theoretically, produce 50,653 rabbits in three years and 69 million in five years and a whopping 64 billion in seven years. In the wild this degree of fecundity makes sense, rabbits being breakfast, lunch and dinner to so many other guests in nature's restaurant, but for the domestic rabbit and it's caregivers it does not. Even if a rabbit is an only rabbit spaying will keep the animal from developing uterine cancer, very common in un-spayed lagomorph females. Neutering a male helps with box training and reduces/eliminates spraying. Although one would think that personality of males would be significantly changed by removing the testes from the hormonal picture, I can attest the Tyler, though not a humper, is very protective of his girl friends and competitive when it comes to other males. He has tried to take on a male rabbit 4 times his size, luckily there was a fence between them.
There are 8 rabbits left from the Aptos rescue that need homes, if you can help please contact the Rabbit Haven. They must be out of the shelter by the 18th or they are in danger of being euthanized.