What are the ten friendliest animals in the world? Well, we first need to define “friendly.” For our purposes, it means “gets along well with humans.” But let’s not confuse “gets along” with “makes a good pet.” Even though some animals are sweet, that doesn’t mean everyone should keep them as pets. Animals, including humans, have vital needs — and if we can’t satisfy them, we shouldn’t assume the responsibility.
But enough lecturing! Let’s rank the 10 friendliest animals in the world.
Friendliest Wild Animal: Capybaras
One of the very few things in this world on which everyone can agree is that capybaras are the friendliest wild animals on Earth. This giant, wild rodent, is about four-feet-long, and the average capybara weighs about 150 pounds.
Known to be super chill, they get along famously with cats, birds, crocodiles, camels, humans, and everything in between! Monkeys are especially fond of this semi-aquatic animal.
Calm and compassionate, capybaras adopt stray and runt animals and regularly serve as public transportation for birds and monkeys!
Can you keep capybaras as pets in the United States? Only in Texas and Pennsylvania. But, it’s a large undertaking and not recommended. If you’re considering welcoming the lovable rodent into your home, make sure you have room for at least two. Capybaras are exceptionally social animals who grow achingly depressed if they don’t have at least one friend. They also need lots of space to roam, and a large pool or lake to wade whenever they want.
Though they probably wouldn’t mind if you approached them in their swamp of choice and hung out for a bit, it isn’t the wisest idea. Capybaras sometimes host ticks carrying Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and you don’t want to contract that!
Learn more about capybaras, the friendliest animal in the world, here.
Friendliest Pet: Dogs
Frederick the Great of Prussia was the first person to call dogs “man’s best friend.” Ogden Nash went on to popularize the phrase in a poem, and billions of people have proved them right over generations.
Loyal and sensitive to human emotions, dogs have gotten along with people throughout history. Canines were one of the first species domesticated by homo sapiens and still play significant roles in our public and personal lives. They work as law enforcement officers, bring cheer to hospitals and nursing homes, and assist people with disabilities. Dogs are even integral members of our agricultural ecosystem!
But perhaps best of all, they cuddle when they know we need a friend and cannot be happier to see us when we walk through the door after a long day. For many people, their dog is part of their family.
Which dog breeds are the friendliest? Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and beagles usually top the list.
Learn more about dogs, which always have wet noses, here.
Friendliest Feline: House Cats
You know the popular comparison: dogs are friendly companions, and cats are standoffish loners. But like many old axioms, this one is false! Just ask anybody with a family cat.
Yes, felines can lean into their disinterested side, and they’re not always up to fetch a Frisbee. But don’t let their stoic, independent spirits fool you. Cats are loving and full of personality.
Plus, cats are wicked smart and fastidiously clean. What more could you want from a four-pawed friend and housemate!? If you want a kitty that’s likely to veer on the friendlier side of the scale, look for a Maine coon. Orange tabbies are usually affectionate, too.
Learn more about cats, which spend about 70 percent of their lives sleeping, here.
Friendliest Ocean Dweller: Dolphins
Nobody is sure about the inner lives of sea sponges, so scientists usually name dolphins as the friendliest residents of the seas. The playful aquatic mammals also rank among the smartest species.
Dolphins typically travel in large groups called pods and often chase boats and ships. Forty extant species zoom the world’s oceans, but several, including the Amazon, Yangtze, and Ganges river dolphins are on the verge of extinction. Where’s the best place to see them frolicking? You can see them all over the world – from the coasts of Florida and Hawaii to South Africa and New Zealand.
People have long admired dolphins. In Greek myths, they frequently help people and are considered good-luck omens. Plus, did you know that Cupid’s primary mode of transportation is a dolphin?
These days, trained dolphins are also a huge help to the military, where they work as divers.
Learn more about dolphins, which live with their mothers for a very long time, here.
Friendliest Reptiles: Bearded Dragons
Yes, reptiles have personalities too! And according to scientists, bearded dragons tend to be the friendliest reptile species. Though the lizards don’t always click with members of their species, they do get along well with humans. Bearded dragons enjoy being handled by people, and they’ll sometimes spend a few hours just hanging out on their owner’s shoulder.
Learn more about bearded dragons, which are living mood rings, here.
Friendliest Hopper: Rabbits
With their big ears and cute faces, bunny rabbits easily make the top ten friendliest animals list. The adorable herbivores get along splendidly with people, can be litter box trained, and come hopping when their names are called.
Families started keeping rabbits as pets in the 1800s, and they’ve grown in popularity since. Like cats, they’re very particular about their space and like to keep things clean, so they do take work to keep healthy and happy.
Learn more about rabbits, which are a popular pet for children, here.
Friendliest Animal for Riding: Horses
Majestic, loyal, and emotional, horses and humans share a long history of camaraderie. Domesticated around 4000 B.C., horses remain a valued animal in modern-day society.
To this day, many people use horses as a form of transport or even compete in riding competitions to show off the skills of their trotting friend. It has also become common to offer equine therapy as a method of emotional support.
Equines can sleep standing up or lying down, and they drink about 25 gallons of water a day. Approximately 300 species gallop around the world, 18 of which are either endangered or vulnerable, according to the IUCN.
Learn more about horses, which can run a few hours after being born, here.
Friendliest Farm Animal: Sheep
Woolly and lovable, sheep are an important part of our agricultural landscape. And as anyone who’s ever worked with sheep will tell you, they’re incredibly friendly and don’t mind human company one bit.
They may not love getting sheared, but it doesn’t hurt them, and sheep form bonds with their shepherds.
Learn more about sheep, which prefer to flock close together, here.
Friendliest Bird: Swans
Swans may have a reputation for being stuck up, but they’re one of the friendliest birds around — and are soothed by the human voice.
However, they will fiercely protect their babies (called cygnets), so watch out!
These amazing long-necked avians mate for life. However, about three percent get “divorced,” usually due to a nesting failure. Egalitarian in their daily lives, male swans even take turns incubating eggs!
Learn more about swans, cousins to geese and ducks, here.
Friendliest Pack Animal: Llamas
Guinea pigs usually round out many nicest animal lists, but we’re going with llamas instead because we think they deserve more appreciation. Cousin to the camel, llamas are very curious, smart, clean, and friendly.
In recent years, handlers have started bringing llamas to hospitals and nursing homes as therapy animals. The endearing llamas love being around the residents and vice versa.
If you’re considering keeping llamas, make sure you have enough room and get at least two. They enjoy the company!
Learn more about llamas, whom Andean people call “silent brothers,” here.