Neutering a rat is also called castration or orchidectomy and is a surgical procedure where the vet removes the male animal’s testicles so that he becomes sterile. There are several benefits to this procedure, but how much does it cost, and what do you need to consider before having it done? Here’s everything that you’ll want to know to make an informed decision.
So, how much does it cost to neuter a rat? The average cost to neuter a rat is around $355. This is much higher than for dogs or cats, simply because the surgery isn’t done as often on rats as on these other animals, and it is a more complicated procedure. That being said, costs vary widely, and rat owners have been known to pay as little as $15 or as much as $800.
The short answer is that it depends.
But that’s not too helpful, is it?
And unfortunately, this does mean you are going to absolutely need to do your research to find the best place to take them if you do decide to do so.
But more on that later.
One quick thing to note before we delve into the subject is this.
Generally speaking, it is usually male rats who are neutered.
Female rats are only neutered if there is a severe behavior problem or a medical emergency.
With this in mind, let us now explore the costs of neutering a rat further.
It’s more complicated than you think!
Why Are There So Many Different Prices?
The variation in price is primarily due to supply and demand. It’s simple economics. In other words, prices in highly populated areas tend to be lower simply because there’s more demand.
So, a small private clinic that is the only place to neuter rates in a given geographical area can get away with charging more.
In addition, clinics that only neuter a small number of rats per year need to justify their costs.
Neutering rats is a relatively new practice, as until recently, it was considered to be too risky to do so.
Now, though, more and more vets with a lot of experience with rodents can neuter them safely.
What Other Costs Are Involved?
Costs involved with neutering a rat do not just stop at the procedure itself. Sometimes there are other costs that can inflate the price.
These are the main ones to be aware of:
- Preoperative tests or a full health check, particularly if you think your rat may not be in optimum health.
- Pain medication for the days following surgery.
- A separate housing area for your rat so that he can recover quietly, away from other animals, for about a week.
- Another vet visit in 7 to 10 days to remove the sutures (this may be included in the vet’s neutering fees, so check this first).
- An additional visit to the vet if your rat chews at his stitches or if anything untoward develops after surgery (changes in behavior, appetite, drinking, urinating, defecating, or changes in the wound).
Do Male Rats Need to Be Neutered?
Male rats don’t necessarily need to be neutered unless they live with female rats, and you don’t want them to mate and have lots of babies.
Having said that, even if your male rat lives with other males, there are a lot of benefits to neutering.
Benefits To Neutering A Rat
- No risk of testicular cancer. It is common for rats to develop reproductive cancers, so this is the biggest reason why neutered rats enjoy a longer lifespan (see below).
- Better adoption possibilities. If you do need to find a new home for your rat, you’ll have a better chance if he is neutered since he’ll be able to be housed with females as well as males. Most males are sterile within one week after surgery (though you may wish to wait two weeks before introducing them to other animals in case they are experiencing any pain or soreness).
- Less aggressive behavior towards their fellow rats. Rats can be quite aggressive towards each other when they reach sexual maturity due to increased testosterone. Fights between animals can lead to injury or death. Neutered males will also tend to be less aggressive towards any new rats who enter their housing area, as they won’t be seen as competition.
- Less urine marking. Your neutered rat’s environment will tend to be cleaner overall since they won’t be marking territory with urine.
- Easier to handle as pets. Male neutered rats can be easier to handle and calmer due to less influence on their behavior caused by hormones.
There is, however, one downside to neutering, and that is an increased risk of obesity.
You can avoid this, though, by making sure your rat eats a correct diet and gets plenty of exercise.
Do Neutered Rats Live Longer?
Apparently, neutered rats do indeed live longer, on average by about four more months, or an overall percentage of 14% longer. 4 months might not seem like very much, but given that the average lifespan of a rat is under three years, these extra months do make a difference.
The rats who benefit from the longest increase in lifespan tend to have been neutered at three months of age.
What Age Should I Neuter My Rat?
The best age to neuter your rat is about 3 to 4 months of age for males. You want to wait a little longer for females and have them neutered (or spayed) at 5 to 6 months of age.
The reason you want to wait this long – given a rat’s relatively short lifespan – is that you want your rat to be fully grown before surgery to ensure the safest possible recovery.
Fully grown rats are at less of a risk for complications after surgery, which are unusual but could include:
- An adverse reaction to the anesthesia. This is very unusual but can happen with any drug or anesthetic.
- A reaction to the materials used for the suture. Again, this is rare but can occur. Look for any irritation, swelling, redness, or a draining wound. Unfortunately, your rat might need another operation to remove the suture material. Some vets use surgical glue instead.
- An infection. This is also rare but could occur around the area of the incision. If this does happen, your vet will prescribe antibiotics. Often an infection can occur when a rat licks the area too much or isn’t kept in an environment that’s sufficiently clean and dry. You can help to prevent infection by keeping your rat’s housing area clean and checking the surgical site several times a day for any redness, swelling, pus or other discharge, or rupture of the sutures.
- Bleeding internally. If your rat is too active following surgery – running or jumping, for instance – then internal bleeding can occur. Signs to watch for are a swollen abdomen, weakness or lethargy, a lack of eating, pale gums, or depression.
Where to Take Your Rat to Get Neutered
Where to take your rat to get neutered depends on your budget, given the wide range of prices and the vet’s experience.
If money is a consideration for you, the cheapest providers for neutering seem to be animal rescue clinics, so you could check if there are any in your area that neuter rats.
Here’s what you want to look for when choosing a vet to neuter your rat:
Obviously, you want a vet who has a lot of experience in neutering rats. If your vet says, “I’ll give it a go,” that’s not very encouraging!
Surgery on small animals is delicate, and you want someone with experience.
Ask your vet how many rats they’ve neutered or how many they typically do in a year.
Some small clinics do as little as ten a year, whereas other vets do hundreds.
The more rats they’ve worked with, the more likely the chances that they’ll take good care of your rat.
Requirements For Surgery
If your vet asks you to fast your rat before surgery, this is your cue to choose someone else!
Unlike dogs and cats, rats don’t have a vomiting reflex, so they are at no risk of throwing up – during surgery or at any other time.
Any vet that asks you to fast your rat is communicating their lack of experience with these small animals loud and clear.
If the person on reception asks you to fast your animal but not your vet, just ignore them – many people assume that since dogs and cats have to fast, the same applies to all mammals.
It isn’t their fault; they just haven’t been told, most likely (you can educate them if you like!)
Fasting can be dangerous for rats because it lowers their energy reserves and makes them more susceptible to hypoglycemia and dehydration.
Having no food in their systems can even change how your rat reacts to the anesthetic, so feed them as usual before surgery.
You will want a vet who will provide you with full instructions on what to do following your rat’s surgery to ensure a speedy recovery.
Make sure that your vet shows you the incision site and tells you what ‘normal’ looks like so that you can monitor any changes.
Ask for emergency contact information (perhaps from an emergency vet who has experience with rats) if you need help when your vet’s office is closed.
A good vet will be able to provide you with a number to call.
Ask if your vet uses sutures or surgical glue.
Some vets use glue, in which case you won’t have to return to the vet for another appointment (lowering the cost for you!)
You’ll still need to check on the incision site for any changes, but you will save yourself another vet appointment.
How much it is going to cost to get your rat neutered is entirely circumstance-dependent.
In fact, you are only going to really start to get an understanding when you start your research and look for what is available in your area.
So it will take some work on your part.
Nonetheless, there are some reasons why you may want to put your rat through this procedure.
And if you can get it done on the cheaper side of the average, then it becomes much more of an appealing thing to do.
Just be sure you only go through a reputable vet with experience in rats.
And become fully aware of all the various stages, both pre, during, and post-op.
You want to ensure you can support your rat throughout the entire process.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.