This is a decision to be taken by responsible and caring rabbit owners.
This decision can be based upon different factors:
- prevention of unwanted/unplanned pregnancy
- prevention of in-breeding when brother and sister live together
- the need to prevent males spraying
- prevention of uterine cancer in does
- behavioural reasons
A buck and doe can reach sexual maturity at just 3 months of age so it is essential that you monitor the development of your male rabbit(s) to ensure there is no risk to your doe. If you own a male and a female bunny who live together or might come into contact with each other by accident, then it is essential that one or both of them are neutered.
The male castration is a very simple operation and we would personally recommend that he is castrated as soon as he reaches puberty, ie as soon as his testicles appear which is usually around 12-16 weeks of age. If your vet insists you wait until he is 6 months old - find a more bunny-savvy vet! If castrated promptly at puberty then there is no need to keep him separate from his girlfriend.
If a buck is castrated as a mature adult aged +5-6 months then he will may still be fertile for several weeks following his ‘snip’ so must not come into contact with any females for 4 weeks.
Prevention of Uterine Cancer:
Spaying will prevent uterine cancer which is said to be fairly common in older rabbits and will minimise or totally eradicate phantom pregnancies in does. Spaying is normally performed at 5-6 months of age - or later.
Neutering can have benefits for owners who want to litter-train their bunnies. During the main breeding season, there can be a temporary breakdown in litter-training, with bucks beginning to spray while both males and females might deposit their droppings outside their tray as they territorially mark 'their space'.
Reducing randy behaviour!
If you have a sexually-frustrated buck, then you might find he starts circling your ankles, mounting your arms and legs and trying to mate with shoes, cushions, soft toys - anything he can!!
As for females, un-spayed females can become quite stroppy and begin to fling their food bowls or litter tray around and become quite grumpy with an almost permanent ‘bunny PMT’.
Important note: It is never advisable to try to resolve natural mating instincts in a doe by saying "Oh, I'll just let her have a litter to be kind to her". This is not being 'kind' to her at all, is likely to worsen the situation by making her more hormonal and is an irresponsible approach.
She and her mate might not be of breeding quality, if their line histories are not known then you could be breeding faults and then there is the issue of finding permanent loving homes for the youngsters produced.
Unless you are planning to keep them all then you might also need a Licence in order to offer them to members of the public (even if offered free of charge) or sell them to a pet store - which is highly unlikely to filter prospective adopters and may lead to the babies moving into unsuitable homes.