They were measured, petted, flipped over and scrutinized. Some were disqualified for having one white toenail or an inconsistent coat. Others were praised for their pedigree and the quality of their fur.
Four judges examined roughly 350 rabbits representing 31 breeds -- from the Giant Chinchillas to the svelte Belgian Hare -- Saturday at the annual Spring Long Island Rabbit Show in Old Bethpage, put on by the Long Island Rabbit Breeders Association. Two winners were chosen.
"You buy two rabbits, and the next thing you know, you have 50," said the association's secretary Carol Doukas of Ronkonkoma, explaining how she began showing rabbits with her daughter more than 20 years ago.
As judges prodded the rabbits and gave their assessments, breeders and exhibitors showcased their pets in the Village Restoration exhibition building. And several hundred spectators, including curious youngsters, wandered around the cages, gawking at the fluff, the patterns and, of course, the ears.
"The diversity of the rabbits -- there's just so many," said Mark Mancusi, 53, of Levittown. "At home the wild rabbits that live on our property are just brown or cottontail rabbits, but the diversity I think -- and the enthusiasm and how much the people are really into them -- it's incredible."
The show also offered a chance for those who are new to rabbitry to get more involved. Noah Bouthillier, 13, of Lake Grove, sat in a folding chair, stroking his new black male Mini Lop he named Midnight.
Three weeks ago, his family didn't own a single rabbit. Now, they have six, and they plan to start breeding and showing as soon as they learn more about what makes a winning rabbit.
"We've learned that they have to have perfect nails, and they can't be missing any, and they have to be matching with their colors," Bouthillier said. "Even if they have little streaks of gray hair, they'll be disqualified."