Certificate In Leporidae Care

Surgery Plan

Before the consultation make sure the rabbit travels in a carrier, with access to hay and water.

It should not have been fasted before anesthesia, although a short starvation period of 1–2h is

required to ensure the mouth is empty and the stomach is not overfull.


Clinical examination: check eyes, ears and fur (for parasites), auscultation of the heart and

lungs, check the lymph nodes, outer genitalia, take temperature. Also check for wounds, bitemarks, check paws and claws, weighing

Questions for owner

  • what does the rabbit eat (types of food, amount) and drink

  • what kind of environment does the rabbit live in (housing, other pets/fellow rabbits)

  • does the rabbit get exercise (is it active outside the cage?)

  • is it being handled every day and is it used to being touched/handled

  • is the rabbit healthy in their mind

  • make sure the owners know about risks when it comes to anesthesia


The rabbit should be kept in a quiet and calm room in the clinic, without other animals (predators, such as cats, dogs and ferrets). It should have a familiar bedding (hay) and it should not have to wait for too long for the procedure to start. They should have a nice temperature in the room.

Calm and gentle handling is necessary to keep the rabbit from stressing.


Castration of a male rabbit (age: 7 months, weight: 2 kg)

Using this anesthesia-protocol an i.v.-route is required (venous catheter in the ear). Also intubation with an endotracheal tube is necessary.


Equipment for surgery:

  • instruments (scalpel, needle holder, peans (forceps), tweezers (anatomic and surgical), scissors

  • sutures

  • sterile surgical gloves

  • compresses

  • sterile cover

  • heating for the rabbit (blanket, heating pad, etc)

  • emergency-case: acute drugs and medications for emergencies

  • surgical cleaning before procedure

  • monitoring equipment: capnograph, BP-measurements, pulse oximeter, thermometer

  • anesthesia-recording + stethoscope

Clinical parameters during surgery

Some medications give negative cardiovascular depressions (lower heart rate, lower espiratory rate, lower blood pressure). During anesthesia rabbits tend to get hypothermic (lower body temperature). It is important to know which side effects the drugs you are using have. Heating during surgery is also really important.

The heart rate might go as low as 130/min (beats per minute). If the temperature goes below 38 °C the rabbit is too cold, but if it gets over 40 °C it is too warm.

Post-operative care and recovery

After surgery it is important to make sure the rabbit stays warm (hypothermia is common).

An incubator is often used. Extubation. When the rabbit is awake, it’s important to start feeding it. It should have access to hay, but also it should be fed with a recovery food (such as Critical Care). When the rabbit is at its normal temperature it’s important to remove any electrical heating pads (they tend to chew on them). The rabbit should be closely monitored until it goes home - to make sure it is eating and drinking well, but also to assess pain. Pain medication has been given.

Instructions for owners

The owners need to monitor their rabbit, make sure he is eating and drinking, but also passing

faeces. Pain medication is given once a day orally for 5 days. If he is not eating he needs to

come back for a check-up.

Also, if there are any female rabbits in the household, they need to keep them separated. Male

rabbits can be fertile several weeks after castration.