Rat Spays and Neuters
A spay is the surgery given to aFemale to stop the occurrence of pregnancy, where as a neuter is the surgery given to a Male to stop the production of sperm.
All spays and neuters carry a risk with them as they are surgeries that require your animal to be sedated. Please speak with your vet about the risks of surgery.
Fasting is generally not required for spays and neuters as a Rat does not have the ability to vomit and if possible the Rat that will be having the surgery needs as many nutrients from food and drink before surgery so that they have the energy and hydration level required during the procedure.
A Rat spay is normally performed just like a cat spay but on a smaller scale, a small incision is made and the tubes tied off or severed so that pregnancy cannot occur. Most vets will do internal as well as external stitches to close the incision site. Approx 10% of Rats will intentionally chew their sutures out, usually females. Because of the risk of your Rat opening its incision it is generally recommended that all post-surgical Rats be kept in cages without litter, only shredded paper, towels or clean rags are needed as this reduces the risk of contaminating the incision. Rats, if they are going to, chew their sutures the first night after surgery, it is very important that you check the incision first thing in the morning. If you find that your Rat has chewed open the incision then it is important to call your vet and ask if they will resuture the site, some vets even glue the incision shut if the female continues to chew the sutures, sometimes if the incision is less than 2.5cm long vets will recommend leaving the incision open to heal on its own. However, if you suspect that an infection is present please go directly to your vet as generally infections require specialised vet only medications. Some rats have a negative reaction to some of the suture materials used to stitch the wound closed. If this occurs the incision normally becomes inflamed and breaks down. A revisit with the vet is required so that any suture material can be removed and replaced with something else, normally glue.
It is normally recommended that you place your female back with her cage mates after approx 24 hours as this will lower her stress levels and help promote healing. Should your female not be coping well with the other cage mates then it may be advisable to give her a little more time to heal before trying to integrate her again.
One very important benefit of spaying your female is that it can lower the risk of getting mammary tumors in female. The earlier a spay is performed the higher chance of tumors NOT being an issue later in life.
Neuters are much like spays but can vary from vet to vet as there are different ways of performing the surgery.
Males tend to leave their sutures alone unlike females. Males can be housed back with their cage mates approx 24 hours after surgery and once all the effects of the anesthetic have worn off.
It is normally recommended to keep the neutered male away from females for around 4-6 weeks to be sure that reproduction cannot occur. However, some people say that 5 days is enough time, please speak with your vet about safe introductory times.
Males also have a reduced rate of prostate and testicular cancer once they have been neutered but actual percentage rates are currently not available. Males that are neutered early also do not suffer from hormonal aggression as they reach sexual maturity.