Nature vs. Nurture and Bunnies

This week my family celebrated something special. Well actually we celebrated two special little girls—our bunnies. Two years ago our dog Oscar found three bunnies in our Arkansas backyard. The day before we had a fire in the forest behind us and the morning after is when we had a new hole and three new residents in our yard. I looked for any signs of the mother. I put food out for her and the babies (not knowing at the time that that was a bad thing to do) but she never showed. The next few days and years have proven to be our family’s ultimate science experiment for the debate: Nature vs. Nurture.

After a day of checking on the small bunnies anytime we went outside I called the vet we used for Oscar. I was told that it was extremely difficult to save wild bunnies without their mom. They really were dependent on her milk. So I did nothing but looked in on them in their little nest whenever I went out with Oscar.

Three days later and still no sign of their mother I grew worried about the bunnies as a strong Arkansas storm moved in. As the rain picked up in intensity I went outside to check on them and knew instantly that I couldn’t stand by and do nothing. Their nest was quickly filling up with water. Due to the slant of the yard water and mud was rushing in on them. Two bunnies (Jedi and Artemis) had hopped out of the hole but were sitting there crying and looking into it. The third bunny (Diamond) had her hind legs stuck in the hole and was stretching her head as high as she could over the water. She was screaming so loudly. I never knew a bunny could make that sound.

Long heroic rescue made short, they survived the first week. It took a while to get Diamond to take to the replacement milk I bought for them. I had to feed her by walking her up and down the hall to classical music. Yes, she is one spoiled bunny but she is alive. Though Artemis ate very well her system didn’t take to the milk and we lost her almost two weeks after their rescue.

Two years later Diamond and Jedi (who is actually a girl) are doing great and living with us in Saudi Arabia. They are wonderful members of our family and I consider saving them to be one of my greatest accomplishments. The real interesting thing about their story is their personality.

Three weeks after Diamond and Jedi's rescue

Three weeks after Diamond and Jedi’s rescue

I’ve always loved reading about the nature vs. nurture debate and seeing these two grow up has really shed some light on the topic for me. These are two rabbits from the same litter. They both experienced a traumatic event, which led to their rescue. They have been fed the same, cared for the same. They both are exposed to the same environment factors yet they are so different.

Diamond is shy and very skittish of anyone who is not me. She tolerates my three-year-old daughter and large dog. For Jedi, life is one big party. She is happy going anywhere and spending time with anyone who will give her attention. She is my bunny who will go to my daughter’s preschool during the Easter season. Jedi is also easy to groom while Diamond acts as if the act is torture.

They are both tame and domestic rabbits who are potty trained. They stopped being “wild” just after their rescue, yet they have such different personalities. It certainly suggests that many of their traits were bred as part of nature and their non-wild attributes were developed through the nurture that I showed them. I always find these kind of topics fun to debate.

Do you have any similar experiences with animals? What do you think?

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