Living on the balcony
Whether winter or summer, on the balcony can conjure up a small kingdom for the rabbits. Especially for city dwellers who cannot keep their rabbits in the apartment because of space or for other reasons, but do not have a garden, the balcony is ideal.
It is important that the rabbits get enough space on the balcony. They should be allowed to use the whole balcony day and night – unless you have a very large balcony, so you can fence off at least 6m² for them.
Furnish the balcony properly
In order for rabbits to feel comfortable on the balcony, they need proper furnishings.
As with outdoor housing, a shelter (a rabbit hutch that is windproof and rainproof) must be provided. In addition, the rabbits need a covered area. For balconies that are not (partially) covered, a canopy should therefore be made for one area. This area can also be used for feeding.
In addition to the hutch, cottages and other shelters and elevated areas can be provided. Covered litter boxes in the corners are suitable for housebroken rabbits as a quiet place. To keep rabbits from getting bored, they must be kept busy with appropriate furnishing items.
The floor should be protected (if it is delicate) with inexpensive PVC, for example, but it must be secured at the edges with strips to prevent it from being gnawed on. Choose a rough PVC floor so that the rabbits do not slip. Concrete flooring is also suitable for rabbits, although it looks rather uninviting, they like it quite a lot. Also suitable would be carpet or artificial turf, although these can encourage abrasion on the paws, which sometimes leads to sore legs.
Safety on the balcony
To protect the rabbits from possible dangers, in advance, balcony housing should be well planned.
In summer it is necessary to pay attention to temperatures. Especially on south-facing balconies it becomes unbearably hot at midday. Rabbits always need shady places in the sun to avoid being exposed to the heat. Otherwise they suffer from heat stroke. However, in many (especially narrow and closed) balconies, even with shade, the sun accumulates so extremely that the rabbits can not live there. It is therefore advantageous to have a balcony that does not face south. But also with other balconies caution is necessary. Damp towels hung over branches, cool sidewalk slabs to lie on, a fan oriented so that the rabbits can also escape the wind, water bottles with frozen water and other measures make it more comfortable for the rabbits in the summer.
In the cold season, the same precautions should be observed as in the winter outdoor housing. This includes a covered area, enough space and a shelter!
You can find more information here.
A safe balcony railing
Rabbits fit through the smallest cracks. Wherever they can get their heads through, their bodies often fit through as well. The balcony railing is therefore secured with lattice elements, aviary wire and boards if necessary. A fall from a height of several meters is usually fatal. In addition, the railing should be measured sufficiently high so that no rabbit jumps over it. For rabbits that like to jump, 1.20m height is sufficient as long as they do not have any elevated places next to the railing (roofs of the facility, etc.), so that the railing is lower from this point of view.
Safe from predators
If the balcony is bordered by trees, cat ladders, climbing frames, plants growing on the wall of the house or other “entry aids” (Attention: Martens can jump almost 2 m), it is necessary to secure the balcony upwards as well. Otherwise martens and foxes have easy game. They can also climb up very rough walls, but not on smooth house walls.
On the lower floors (terrace, low 1st floor) the balcony must be protected from predators. On the other hand, on the upper floors (if there are no climbing aids adjacent), protection from foxes and martens is not necessary. However, note that in this case it is necessary to ensure that the marten has no possibility to get into/onto the roof, which is rarely the case! Downpipes can be secured with anti-marten brushes. You should also check whether a marten could perhaps come over a tree onto the neighbor’s house and thus get onto your own roof and then onto the balcony (top floor).
It is possible to build a normal ground enclosure on the balcony (as for the garden), i.e. an enclosure about 1m high that is secured to the sides and upwards with wire.
However, it is easier to attach a strip to the wall of the house and to attach individual lattice elements to it, which can be folded onto the balcony parapet or onto the wall with hinges. Thus, the elements can be folded upwards during cleaning and feeding and the balcony is freely accessible. Higher enclosures are often problematic because they are rarely permitted. Many owners also install cat nets, these offer protection (also in the higher floors) from possible dangers from the air, but marten-proof they are not and in addition they must also be approved.
Pay attention to marten safety in the construction and material! Many grids and wires are not safe.
Can the landlord or the community ban rabbits on the balcony?
Rabbits per se may not be banned on the balcony, unless they cause a noise nuisance or noise pollution for the neighbors (clean regularly, quiet accessories!). In addition, make sure that the railing is secured so that (especially in windy conditions) no hay or litter can fly down. Tight aviary wire or a wood guard serve their purpose for this. Or it is littered in such a way that nothing flies around. It is also important that the usual number is not exceeded. Therefore, for example, a rabbit breeding on the balcony or 10 rabbits on a balcony is not allowed. With two or three rabbits, on the other hand, you will not have any problems.
The house community or the landlord can also prescribe the overall appearance of the house facade, so everything that is built above the railing (higher enclosures) is subject to approval! It is also important to make sure that the balcony is not damaged (cover wood with aviary wire, seal floors) so that there is no damage to the rented property.
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