How a Rabbit Changed the Way I Look at People

My girlfriend has a pet rabbit named Momo. He’s absolutely adorable. Here’s a picture of him wiping his face.

Momo wiping his face. #dailyroutine #dailyhygiene #petbunny

A photo posted by Anson Kao (@anson_kao) on

Did you know that bunnies wipe their faces every 5 minutes? They have all these random idiosyncrasies that are incredibly entertaining to watch, especially when you don’t have a clue what the hell they’re trying to do. For example, Momo has a tendency to bite thin objects he finds around the house, like my shoelaces or my iPhone cable. His teeth are sharp, so he manages to take solid chunks out of the insulation. But he never completely cuts the cable – he just bites it, gets bored, and leaves. Go figure.

Another amusing behaviour of Momo is when he scratches things. Recently, he started scratching this one corner of the ground by the bed. He just goes there and starts scratching, like he’s trying to dig a hole through to China. I found this very hilarious, until my girlfriend pointed out that it’s a common behaviour for wild rabbits to dig holes as some sorta survival mechanism. Then my inquisitive side took over and I got to thinking.

How did Momo learn these behaviours? Momo is not a wild rabbit, and unlike dogs or cats, he never gets to learn from other rabbits at the park. Momo is Tarzan.

The more I observed him, the more I realized that his father dug holes too, and his grandfather before him. If Momo had a son, he too, would instinctively dig holes. We could breed his lineage for a thousand generations and as domesticated rabbits the urge to dig holes would simply never disappear.

We tried to see if we could get him to stop digging. We blocked the area you see Momo digging at in the video with some really difficult obstacles, like a yoga mat that was firmly pressed into the crevice of the bed frame. I would catch him in the middle of the night, yanking relentlessly on the corner of the mat with his teeth. If Momo has the ability to think rationally, he is not using it when he digs. These random idiosyncrasies he has, they are raw, animal instincts, and they simply cannot be reasoned with.

Then I wondered, who was the first rabbit that ever dug a hole? And I realized that there isn’t much difference between a behaviour that is driven by animal instinct, and a behaviour that is driven by something like a childhood fear. When a thought is reinforced thousands of times in one’s mind by reliving an emotional experience, it develops into an instinct, and if strong enough, this behaviour can be passed onto others.

Which leads me to my main message regarding people and how we deal with each other: we need to stop judging. Because sometimes, people don’t have a choice – we are wired by our past to behave a certain way, and it is shortsighted to expect us to see things differently.

The worst thing to call somebody is crazy. It’s dismissive. “I don’t understand this person. So they’re crazy.” That’s bullshit. These people are not crazy. They strong people. Maybe their environment is a little sick.Dave Chappelle, on Inside the Actor’s Studio

So next time you catch yourself about to judge someone with tattoos, piercings, saggy pants, plastic surgery, drug addictions, or anything that’s not normal to you, I urge you to first think about why that someone is behaving that way. No-one is trying intentionally to be strange or inferior. We are all just doing the best we can with what we were given, genetically or otherwise. Just like Momo.

Also, if someone can explain to me why Momo likes chewing my cables, please do so in the comments because I can’t for the life of me figure it out.