We all know the benefits of spay and neuter for dogs and cats, and most people are very comfortable with the idea. Is there any need to spay and neuter exotic pets? The answer is actually quite complicated, and depends entirely on the type of pet. Spay and neuter is always beneficial when owners want to keep a male and female together, but not end up with lots of “extra” pets. However, there are some other important reasons why some exotic pets benefit from spay and neuter.
Take the following quiz, and test your exotic pet reproductive knowledge!
Which of the following exotic pets has an unusually high risk of uterine cancer if she is not spayed (up to 70%, depending on breed)?
Which exotic pet will probably never experience all-too-common mammary tumors if she is spayed early?
- Guinea pig
- Sugar Glider
Which exotic pet really smells TERRIBLE if he is not neutered?
- Rabbits and rats
- Ferrets and guinea pigs
- Ferrets and sugar gliders
- The rabbit! Surveys show an incidence of up to 80% once rabbits reach the age of 5 or 6. Many will not die of the cancer, but can experience symptoms such as vaginal bleeding and weight loss. In some cases, cancer can spread to the lungs or other organs. Spaying is a simple option to help prevent, and even treat uterine cancer in the rabbit.
- Some strains of rats have a very high incidence of mammary tumors, which can become very large, sometimes larger than the rat! Mammary tumors are influenced by estrogen, and can be prevented by removing the ovaries (it’s not even necessary to remove the entire uterus)!
3. Male ferrets and sugar gliders that are not neutered have a very strong odor, which most people find objectionable. Male sugar gliders can be neutered; however we recommend implantable “birth control” for male ferrets instead of neutering.