So we all know that with cats and dogs it’s pretty much a given that it’s okay to spay and neuter. There are many reasons to spay and neuter (especially cats if they’re outdoor cats).
However, with most small animals (specifically rats, others like rabbits are different), these procedures are usually unnecessary and dangerous.
Neutering is less dangerous as it is not extremely invasive, however the animal still needs to go under anesthesia and go through a recovery period. Many bucks get infections after neutering and many have even died due to these infections, even with medical intervention. While this is not the norm and most bucks heal perfectly fine, keep in mind that it can happen.
When asked why someone wants to spay their rat, the answer is usually “To prevent tumours”.
Let me make this clear. Spaying does NOT always *prevent* tumours. Not even mammary tumours. Tumours are 90% of the time linked to environmental factors such as diet. If you often feed your rats foods high in sugar and salt, they are WAY more likely to get a tumour than rats who have no sugar or salt in their diet. This is a fact. It has been proven time and time again by people who have gotten their does spayed and still landed up with them getting mammary tumours. Spaying may lessen the *chance* of tumours, but if your rat is still fed sugars and salt on a regular basis and is drinking water laced with chemicals, then spaying will do nothing.
The risks of spaying FAR outweigh the benefits, **in my opinion**. It can prevent things like a uterine prolapse or infections in the uterus, however the likelihood of your doe actually having one of these issues is slim to none. The stress and possible chance of death during surgery or recovery is NOT WORTH IT.
I will never ever recommend spaying a doe for any reason, unless the doe has a medical need (ie prolapse or pyometra or recurring tumours (please see note below)).
Please make the responsible decision and DO NOT spay your rats for no reason! If a vet advises it, and it is for an obvious reason, then please do, as that is the diagnosis of a medical professional. However please keep in mind the points above, and IMO a spay does not always prevent tumours, so IMO that is not a valid reason to spay, if that is the only reason given by the vet. I will add this as a caveat: if your doe is on a good diet, none of your other rats are getting tumours, and the doe is infact getting recurring tumours, then spaying may work as then this could be linked to genetics or hormones. This is a different scenario than spaying a rat who has never had a tumour and it is being done *solely* as a preventative.
*This post is not in reference to any individual or business/organisation and is the sole information and opinion that I have based on personal experience and experience of other long term rat breeders/owners.