Rudyard Kipling's ability to create animals with human characteristics is an essential part of the appeal of "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi." Rikki displays admirable character qualities, but several of the animals also display human weaknesses. First, Darzee, the tailorbird, displays timidity and muddled thinking. When Rikki first meets him and asks him who Nag is, Darzee cowers in his nest. Rikki scolds Darzee for never having thought to tell him that Nagaina had eggs, even though Darzee had a good idea where they were. When Rikki asks Darzee for help in distracting Nagaina so he can destroy the eggs, Darzee is confused, thinking that because the snakes babies were in eggs like a bird's babies, they should not be killed. The muskrat, Chuchundra, is depressed and fearful. He is afraid to run into the middle of a room, so he skulks around by the walls, whimpering. He cannot even bring himself to tell Rikki what the rat told him about the cobras. Nag is deceitful, pretending to want to get into a philosophical discussion with Rikki when he really was just distracting him so Nagaina could strike. Nagaina herself is described as "Nag's wicked wife." She wants to murder people and animals, and she has a lust for power. She plots with Nag, "So long as the bungalow is empty, we are king and queen of the garden."
Does Rikki have any character weaknesses? He might suffer from over-confidence. As a young mongoose, he was not really capable of taking on the full-sized Nag; if the man hadn't appeared with his gun and shot the cobra, Rikki may have died in the battle.
Because this story has animal characters who have human weaknesses, it gives the reader insight into human social interactions—and it's interesting and enjoyable as well.