Why should I spay or neuter?
Why shouldn't I breed my rabbit?
First, take a look at our "unwanted rabbit" statistics for the past 3 years, including the number we were able to save. The rabbits we were unable to save are rabbits who most likely died because there were not enough homes for all of them. Unwanted rabbits come in all colors, ages and breeds. They come in friendly temperaments and not so friendly temperaments.
Aprox. 75% of the calls we get from people wanting to turn over their rabbits have rabbits between 9 months and 18 months of age. These rabbits are still very young, too young to be unwanted. Too young to die simply because there are not enough good homes for all of them. Too young to die because their owners didn't properly research what living with a rabbit is really like.
What happens to rabbits when there are not enough homes for them?
Some of these unwanted rabbits
are killed for snake or people food
are euthanized at animal shelters
are dumped in residential neighborhoods where they are chased by children; poisoned by angry neighbors; hit by cars; attacked by dogs; etc...
are dumped in the woods or at "bunny colony sites" where they starve to death; die from dehydration, injuries or illness; are eaten by wild animals; are attacked by other rabbits; etc...
are bred on a whim creating more unwanted rabbits
are passed from home to home, forgotten and unloved, becoming increasingly more depressed and anti-social, being fed improper diets, having their illnesses left untreated because no one wants to spend money on "that animal", finally dying and being released at last from a life that was miserable.
There are reasons to breed, very valid ones such as breeding because you want to better a particular breed. If you are going to breed to make money, don't waste your time. Reputable breeders are not getting rich, just ask one how much money they made last year after expenses. Breeding is done because of a love of the breed, not for profit. Reputable breeders are doing their homework and are not breeding simply to create more rabbits. They breed carefully and with a plan in mind.
If you are going to breed, please think carefully. Are they rabbits who are not related? Do you have purebred rabbits? Are they excellent quality rabbits from excellent quality rabbits?
You should not breed rabbits from a pet store or from a person who allowed their mixed breed rabbits have young. Quality rabbits come with a pedigree, were you given one? Have you researched the genetics of the parent's colors so you are going to get "showable" colors? Excellent quality rabbits cost money and can take time to find, can you spend the money and time? Have you researched your area so that you know that the breed you are considering is one that owners in your area actually are interested in? Are you willing to spay or neuter any pet quality rabbits or rabbits with genetic problems before selling so they do not reproduce? How will you place these rabbits, what does it cost to advertise, are you set up to keep any babies that don't sell, etc...? (A pet store should not be an option in 99.9% of the cases!)
Breeding rabbits means providing proper housing. Even if you only have two rabbits, and want just one litter, you need 4 cages. One cage for the mother, one for the father, and two cages to separate the babies by sex. <Mothers should not live with the father, or every 28-32 days you will have a litter! Babies must be separated by sex no later than 9 weeks old. Leaving them with the parents can cause fighting!> Any baby rabbit who does not find a home by 12 weeks old will need their own cage or will need to be altered to prevent fighting with their siblings. A female can have 1-12 babies, average around 3-7 depending on the breed of rabbit. If you needed to do so, can you house up to 10 babies? Not just for short term, think long term, you might not be able to find homes for these babies easily, so be prepared.
More and more reputable breeders are refusing to sell to pet homes if the talk on the streets is true. It's hard to find good pet homes for the rabbits because many pet owners purchase on impulse. If you do decide to place in a pet home, be positive you are prepared to do either home checks or careful screening. Be prepared to do education to ensure the home is going to be a permanent one before you sell a single pet rabbit. Do they want the rabbit "just for the kids", "for Easter", or "just because they are cute"? Or do they want a long term family pet? If they want to breed, are you willing to help mentor them or find someone who can?
If you breed and plan to sell to pet homes, you need to plan on taking any rabbits back if they become unwanted in the future. If you are not willing to take back every single rabbit if the owners decide they can't keep a bunny, you will have at least some babies of yours who wind up in bad situations like the rabbits above, even with careful screening of the homes beforehand. Be sure you are committed to taking those babies back, even when they are rebellious teenagers or older adults if these homes don't work out despite screening.
If you are not able to take them back, are you at least willing to work with the person to help them find a new home? Keep in mind that people tend to get stupid. They don't always ask for help until the day before they are moving. Careful screening of pet homes will help to prevent this. The majority of problems come from impulse purchases. You might make a person angry by saying no and not selling to them, but you will not be dealing with an angry person later who has a 7 month old rabbit they are threatening to dump in the woods.
Are you willing to take back not only the rabbit you sold them, but the "accidental litter" that happened if you didn't insist that every pet rabbit sold MUST be spayed and neutered at breeding age? At some point, it's going to happen if you don't fix them before they leave, be prepared. If you turn them away, you are part of the problem and should not be breeding. Reputable breeders of any animal have a "take back policy" or offer placement help.
Please don't be like some of the breeders who have "emergency sales" (aka selling to anyone with the money to take one, regardless of how good the home is) to sell older babies because they get "too crowded". Breeding is something you CAN control if you are responsible. If you are not prepared for the number of babies that might not sell as babies, needing to live with you for several months, please DON'T breed!
If you aren't prepared for the responsibility of any of this, you are part of the problem, even if you allow your rabbit to have just "one litter". YOU are responsible for the feeding, housing, vet care, socialization, etc, of EVERY single rabbit you create through breeding. Can you live with that? Can you afford that? Do you have the time for that? Think about it before you breed. Too often we get calls from people who put two bunnies together and now can't find homes for the babies and can't afford to house the teenagers. (Or worse, don't separate the teens so now THEY had babies also. In 2005, we got a phone call from someone with 30 rabbits just because of this.) Don't become a "bad breeder", one who breeds without a well thought out plan ahead of time.
Here are articles with more points to consider before breeding your rabbit.
Another problem that un-spayed rabbits face is uterine cancer. Reading these articles will help you understand what can happen to your rabbit if she gets it. We personally know of 4 rabbits who died as a result of uterine cancer and have heard about many others all over the world. It is something we hope we never have to see or hear about again. Sadly, until more people spay their rabbits, it will happen, over and over again. Your un-spayed rabbit is at risk. If she dies from cancer because you didn't spay her but chose to breed her instead, can you live with knowing you could have prevented it?
Un-spayed and un-neutered rabbits can often develop behaviors that can be undesirable habits for a pet to have! Pets with undesirable habits are often rehomed.
Altering your rabbit's future
Spaying and neutering your pet rabbit: What happens and why?
Frequently asked questions about spaying and neutering
Why spay or neuter?
If you just want to help raise a litter of rabbits, don't want to show or don't care what breed you raise, consider fostering for a rescue or a shelter.
Shelters often have pregnant rabbits or rabbits with newborns. By helping out, you save their lives! You help the rescue by providing space for the mother, and the rescue helps you by finding homes for the babies. You get to see the babies, and experience raising them but the rescue finds them homes and deals with the follow up care.