The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A gourmet rabbit.

As long term readers will know, we recently added two rabbits to our family. One is a golden rabbit called Sushi. The other is a grey, very fluffy rabbit called Mochi. Aptly, they are both named after Japanese foods, given the behaviour I am about to describe.

I had the pleasure of observing them as two very young rabbits, on one of their first experiences of the outside world. We had placed them in the garden, under the watchful gaze of all, since we also have cats, who might think two baby rabbits were somehow meant for them, in an unpleasant sort of way (for the rabbits, anyway). Both were very excited to see the grass beneath their feet. Up until then, food had arrived at our hands, in limited quantities: now the very ground beneath their feet sprouted edible goodies. It was fun to see them hop around excitedly, perhaps quite not able to believe that the world, the very world could be constructed of food, as it was, for them.

Mochi's behaviour was most interesting. She wandered about the garden, seeking different varieties of plants. Once she had found a new variety, she would nibble on it, experimentally and come to some inner assessment of its worth. Sometimes she nibbled more enthusiastically, after the first nibble, at other times, she seemed fairly neutral towards the plant. Once she had tasted a plant, she would then hop away in search of another variety. It was quite clear what she was doing. She was on a conscious, deliberate survey of the food options in her environment: she was tasting each and every variety of plant she could find.

She was particular fond of a type of small white flower - name unknown to me. To this she, in fact, returned more than once. It was the only plant, on this particular trip into the garden, that she returned to. With all others, she nibbled, then moved on.

On subsequent adventures in the garden, Mochi would return to where her favourite plants grew and nibble on them. She had come to an understanding of where in the garden the best pickings grew. There was nothing random in her food search: she always seemed to know what she liked to eat. It is notable that she takes the trouble to pick out favourite plants, from among all the alternatives

From this behaviour, it can be seen, that even a rabbit can be a bit of a gourmet. Our rabbits, in particular Mochi, have very individual tastes in food and go out of their way to meet those tastes. In a garden filled with different plants, they don't just nibble the ones at their feet, when placed in the garden - but go hopping off in search of particular treats - at least, they always seem to end up nibbling on these more unusual plants, in preference to more abundant, more readily available ones. Conscious choices seem to be being made.

It has been fun, so far, having rabbits in the house. More than that, however, it has been illuminating. I have come to better appreciate the intelligence of these seemingly simple animals. I think Man rather overestimates our place in the world. Yes, we have language and technology - but even quite humble animals have a degree of intelligence that too many overlook. They are not dumb creatures - they are just not as able as Humanity as a whole. That, however, does not make them unimpressive.

I recommend, to anyone, to have a pet or two in the house. The children will learn a lot - but so will you. The lessons you learn might surprise you and prompt you to reassess a number of your basic assumptions about the world's animals.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 7:34 PM 


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