Monday, September 27, 2010

One Man's Neutering Is Another Man's... Uh... This Title Is Not Working

A few weeks ago I wrote about how Hoppy was behaving violently lately, mainly towards me.  Some people commented that we should consider having Hoppy neutered to solve some of the problems.  My wife and I were against it before, but we decided that we better take another look at the option.

After doing some research, my wife and I now have opposing opinions about neutering.  And it seems to be due to cultural differences in thinking.

I mentioned the nice people that suggested neutering.  In addition, I did some research on the Internet, browsing mainly American web sites that talk about the benefits of neutering, and how it is better for the owner and the rabbit (it helps prevent some cancers, etc.).

My wife also did some research of her own.  She consulted a lot of people she's made acquaintances with through her own rabbit blog (she does hers in Japanese).  Many of them are longtime rabbit lovers and owners, and they seem to be unanimous in their opinion about neutering: don't do it.  They say the surgery is highly risky for the rabbit and is just not worth it.

Talk about cultural differences.

I wonder why there is such a dichotomy between American/Western and Japanese rabbit owners on the subject of neutering.  I can't prove it, but I have a theory as to why there is such a difference.  Perhaps the medical technology is different between Japan and my country of birth, the United States.

I had a co-worker that had to have her appendix taken out when she was visiting her home in the U.S.  The American doctor did some kind of procedure where he took the appendix out of a small incision in her belly button, leaving minimal scars.  Shortly afterward, she did a follow-up checkup in Japan.  The Japanese doctor stared at her small scar in amazement.  "I've never heard of an appendix being taken out this way before!" He said.  It seems that the new and improved way of removing appendices hasn't yet caught on yet here.

Maybe it's the same with having a rabbit neutered.  Maybe in the U.S., neutering a rabbit has become less risky and a more viable option, while here in Japan it is still risky for the rabbit.


  1. Isn't that fascinating (i'm a geek!). I would be interested to hear what Japanese custom is to deal with angry rabbits then... it obviously works for them, as I heard that rabbits are really popular pets in Japan. Maybe you could try to talk to a couple of local vets, and see if it's just the rabbit owners that are opposed to neutering, or if your vets are also advising against it? I'm just interested now... and hope that whatever you decide (if you agree!!) to do, that Hoppy will be happy with your choice! BTW I live in the UK, and neutering if the norm here too - so not just in the US.
    Good luck.

  2. If neutering is not common in Japan or if the vets there are experienced in bunny medicine I would be nervous too. Do they know not to use injectible anesthesia there?

  3. Hello all. Sorry it took me so long to reply to your comments.

    We did talk to our vet about neutering, and he highly recommended it. I found out that basically all vets here recommend neutering, for the same reasons vets in other countries do. Also, the neutering process seems to be the same as in other countries, including anesthesia. So my theory was wrong.

    It's just that the rabbit owners here are opposed to neutering. They just don't want to take risks with their buns. It seems to me that in general, the people here don't take as many risks as, say, Americans do.

    About more aggressive rabbits, some of the Japanese rabbit owners my wife is in contact with just try to be more tolerant of their pets. Give them more space (meaning leaving them alone more), buy toys, things like that. Although in one case where a rabbit was extremely aggressive (biting houseguests), the owner had to use more discipline, such as putting the rabbit in the cage and leaving him there for a while.