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Sex Hormones in Altered Rabbits|
Barbara Deeb, DVM
What happens in spayed/neutered rabbits? The source of estrogen, progesterone or testosterone is removed. But we sometimes have cases like Marshall. The neutered male or spayed female rabbit continues to display mating behaviors. The tests performed by the University of Tennessee revealed that Marshall did have higher than average testosterone levels. But quite surprisingly, hormone levels in these altered rabbits were much higher than in other animals (see note ** on page 8). For example estimated radiol levels in ferrets, cats, and horses are measured in pico-grams/ml (10-12) while in the rabbit they are in nanograms/ml (10-9) Where do these hormones come from? The adrenal glands can produce sex hormones. We know, for instance, that altered ferrets often produce high levels of sex hormones due to adrenal tumors. We have on two occasions found adrenal hyperplasia on post mortem exam in altered rabbits with excessive mating behaviors. So we postulate that adrenals also may take over the sex hormone production role in some rabbits. With the new normal data on altered rabbits from the University of Tennessee we can now test this and we may be able to treat such a problem. Leuprolide acetate (Lupron) is a drug used to treat prostate hyperplasia and endometriosis in humans, and more recently adrenal disease in ferrets. It acts by interfering with pituitary production of FSH and LH, thus preventing excessive production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. This may be an answer for those super sexy bunnies.
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