Relationships Between Animal Personalities

Different insects on display

For an ecosystem to remain stable, it must contain a wide diversity of species. It is also important that the ratio of these species is balanced, since an overabundance of predators could wreak havoc on the ecosystem. If predators were not present at all, then prey animals would overpopulate the environment causing overgrazing and disease. Interestingly, the ratio between predators and prey in nature seems to be mirrored in our own society. Larger animal personalities like elephants, giraffes, and gorillas cannot be supported in large numbers since their bulky personalities put a disproportional stress on the social environment. Conversely, smaller personalities like mice, otters, beavers, and sheep are found in great numbers throughout the concrete jungle.

The ratio of predators to prey in human society is maintained through a process of social pressure. Consider the artificial environment of prisons. In these overcrowded inhospitable conditions, someone who was previously a combative warthog might be unable to survive in a society dominated by crocodiles and lions. By backing away from his assertive stance and manifesting the more gregarious personality of a herbivore, this prisoner can seek the protection of the herd in order to survive. Carnivorous personalities are territorial and require more personal space than their herbivorous counterparts.

Courtship Rituals

From the subtle and coy techniques of the mouse and cottontail personalities, to the aggressive displays of the lion and wolf, every species employs a unique mating strategy. These sorts of behaviors come naturally to us and a visit to a public park quickly reveals our animal personalities in action. Young girls walk by, often arm in arm, pretending not to notice the watching boys displaying their own mating behavior. Some boys adopt masculine stances, lounging around with their legs apart, calling aggressively to the females. Others will feign disinterest and use subtle body language and eye contact to stake their claims.

A male wolf personality might pursue a female sable by first surrounding himself with friends for moral support and then carefully and indirectly approaching the female. If comfortable with these advances, the female will display her interest by moving slowly away from the pack—taking care not to withdraw too far. As the male continues his hunt, she will turn and cautiously engage the group.

This stalking approach is not for the male weasel. To seduce a female warthog personality he must first gain the trust of this cantankerous lady by hiding his true intentions with a small gift or an offer of friendship. If successfully swayed by these advances, the female warthog soon finds herself lured into an uncomfortably unbalanced relationship with the wily weasel.

The rules that govern our mating behaviors are instinctive and deeply rooted. In a number of mammalian species, when males reach middle age they respond to a biological realization that they are no longer in their prime. Aging silverback gorillas can no longer compete physically or sexually with the upcoming group of younger males, and in a biological panic, their reproductive urges trigger them to make one last fling at mating with younger, more fertile females. In humans, this manifests itself when a middle-aged man suddenly feels the urge to display his wealth by buying a fancy sports car, begins ignoring his wife, and starts a workout routine. This middle-life crisis is simply one example of our response to animal programming.

Attractive dogs playing

Animal Magnetism

Fortunately, we humans have the ability to control our own behaviors and are not complete slaves to these drives. Still, it is useful to understand our passions in the light of these powerful animal urges.

When a wildcat and a fox get together, they have superficial connections with a common range and nocturnal spirit. However, as a canine, the fox is a natural competitor of the cat and its natural friendliness grates against the cat's tendency to maintain its distance. Over time these tensions conspire to destroy the relationship. Likewise, if a mouse personality married a cat, power conflicts or spousal abuse would quickly destroy the union. So, all animal personalities should avoid forming close relationships with their species' natural predator.

However, this does not mean that all herbivorous personalities must avoid predators. The meek cottontail rabbit might even strike up a friendship with a powerful lion, since lions are disinclined to waste energy chasing elusive, low-calorie rabbits. Although marriage is out of the question, these friendships can be quite enduring. In exchange for companionship and loyalty, the predator provides resources and protection for the cottontail.

Animal personalities tend to relate to species that share their ranges. The water personality of the dolphin has much in common with the aquatic sea lion and the pastoral nature of the sheep makes for a compatible mate with the grazing deer. Conversely, animal personalities that live in markedly different environments tend to avoid each other. Birds choose to remain out of reach of the land mammal personalities and the unencumbered lives of the sea dwellers make them awkward mates for complex land creatures. On the other hand, the semi-aquatic beaver is capable of forming relationships with both water-going and land-based animal personalities.