The choice of cages is of fundamental importance to the successful breeding of hare. The models used by the Centre are made of various materials (predominantly wood and metal) that prevent the cages from becoming too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.
Each mating pair has 2 m2 x 80 cm height of space available which provides the room necessary to move about and to conduct the various phases of the mating rituals.
The floor of the cage is a wire mesh made of galvanized electro-plated steel raised 50cm from the ground. Although a mammal and able to resist most types of atmospheric conditions, the hare's weak point is its stomach. Because of this, the nest of the leverets is insulated with rubber foam during the period between birth and weaning to reduce the effect of air currents blowing up from underneath the cage.
The inside of the cages is free from sharp metal points to avoid injuring the animals, which are known to be easily excitable. The cages contain a feed box, accessible to the both the animal and the operator, that is easily checked from the outside and sufficiently protected from the elements to preserve the food. Automatic water dispensers guarantee hygiene and relieve the workload for the operator.
The animals' water supply is potable water originating from the local aqueduct, supplemented by an independent cistern for each row of cages, thus reducing the pressure on the network and dividing each group into different sectors. This eliminates a source of stress for the animals and allows for the possibility of selective medical treatment and avoids more generalized interventions.
The most important feature of each cage is the capture zone. Removable traps form part of each cage to facilitate the capture and handling of the animals. Access to the traps by the hare is provided through two small entrances: access to the leverets' nest is through an opening 15 x 18 cm permitting entry only to the young hare. A second opening, 20 x 30 cm provides access to the large nest used by the mating couple. These nest-traps also serve as a refuge for the animal when disturbed. Thanks to a guillotine closure, the operator can enclose the hare in the removable trap for easy capture.
Three different types of cage are in use at the Centre: