The Hidden Costs of Breeding Your Rabbit
Question: I want to breed my female rabbit. I understand that unspayed rabbits are susceptible to ovarian cancer. If I wait to have her spayed until after she has her babies, will the delay decrease her lifespan?
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Answer: Waiting to spay your rabbit until after she has babies will probably not decrease her life span. However, it will decrease the life span of some wonderful rabbits you have never met.
If your rabbit has seven babies, and you and your friends have room in your lives for seven more rabbits, that means good homes for those rabbits. But those good homes could save the lives of seven equally deserving bunnies, destined to be destroyed at an animal shelter because no one wants them. Shouldn’t those of us who love rabbits take responsibility not just for our own beloved companions but also for the less fortunate ones, waiting at shelters?
To complicate this sad fact of overpopulation, what if one of the adopters of your rabbit’s babies also wants to have “just one litter”? And if one or two of those rabbits also are allowed to breed, the statistics tell us that within 2 generations, some of your rabbit’s descendants are guaranteed to end up dead at a shelter.
One alternative would be to spay/neuter your rabbit’s babies before they go to new homes. You would also need to be sure the adopters are making a commitment for the lifetime of each bunny. If any adopter decides at any time not to keep a rabbit, you will need to take back the rabbit. Another option is to not breed your rabbit.
Many people want to breed their rabbit because they find her so delightful, lovable, and beautiful. The joy of living with such a companion brings a wish to have these qualities in a second rabbit. Sometimes a friend will say, “I wish I had a rabbit as lovable as yours.” Is this a good enough reason to breed your rabbit? Consider this: there is no guarantee that your rabbit’s children will have the same personality as hers. Delightful rabbits are discovered as a relationship develops. There is no gene for “lovableness.” The more time you spend with a rabbit, down at ground level where she feels most comfortable and confident, the more responsive and loving she will become–regardless of her breeding.
House Rabbit Society volunteers rescue and find homes for rabbits of all types, ages, and personalities. This work gives us insight into the process of finding the “perfect” companion. Sadly, it also puts us in direct contact with thousands of wonderful rabbits who are destroyed at shelters, simply because there are so many more great bunnies than there are responsible humans to care for them. So that we don’t contribute to the suffering of any rabbit, we have all our rabbits spayed or neutered, regardless of breed or personality.
Thank you for your concern. We hope that you will find a way to cherish your rabbit, without breeding her.
by Holly O’Meara, House Rabbit Society