The planet has hundreds of cute, cuddly, adorable animal species. How can you narrow them down to one list? It wasn’t easy, but we stuck with animals whose little faces will melt your hearts and who also have cute mischievous personalities. This list of the world’s cutest animals is sure to make you smile:
#10. Cutest Animals: Pygmy Marmoset
The pygmy marmoset (Callithrix pygmaea) is a tiny New World monkey native to the Amazon rainforests of South America. It is the smallest monkey and one of the smallest primates in the world. A typical pygmy marmoset weighs just over three ounces. Its other names are pocket monkey, little lion, and dwarf monkey.
This tiny baby has an inquisitive face and fluffy fur. The monkey’s thick fur makes it look bigger than it is to scare off predators. Pygmy marmosets live in Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, and parts of Bolivia. And while it’s arguably already one of the cutest animals in the world, there are still 9 more to go!
Pygmy marmosets are not endangered, but they are frequent victims of the illegal pet trade.
#9. Cutest Animals: Red Panda
The red panda (Ailurus fulgens) is native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. This beautiful creature looks like a cross between a fox and a giant panda, but it’s not related to either. It is closer to a raccoon or skunk.
The red panda has thick red fur and a striped, bushy tail. It is about the size and weight of a domestic cat. Its mischievous face and playful behavior have made it a favorite among people visiting zoos and sanctuaries.
Sadly, red pandas are critically endangered. Like giant pandas, they only eat bamboo, and habitat loss has led to severe population declines. Some zoos have successfully bred red pandas, however. The Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands manages the red panda international studbook. The Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee holds the record for the largest number of red panda births in North America.
#8. Cutest Animals: Meerkat
Meerkats are so cute they even had their own TV show. Do you remember Meerkat Mansion?
The meerkat (Suricata suricatta) is not a cat. It’s actually a small mongoose. Native to southern Africa, the meerkat has enormous eyes and a long tail. Meerkats have incredibly cute behavior, including sitting up high on their hind legs and looking around.
A meerkat stands about 14 inches tall with a long tail. Meerkats are highly social. They live in groups called “mobs” that comprise two or three meerkat families. These mobs live in their own extended underground burrows.
Meerkats are listed as “least concern” for conservation status. You can find meerkats in wildlife sanctuaries in Africa and in zoos around the world.
#7. Cutest Animals: Axolotl
Why is it on our list of cute animals? Its tiny, smiling face is the reason. The axolotl always looks like it’s sweetly smiling. Scientists say this is because it has a trait called neoteny, which means it looks like a baby its whole life. It also has fluffy appendages that look like feather boas.
#6. Cutest Animals: Hedgehog
This tiny creature is known for its round, spiked body and intensely adorable facial expression. The hedgehog (Erinaceusis) a member of the Erinaceinae family.
There are 15 species of hedgehog. This cute critter lives in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Hedgehogs were introduced to New Zealand. There are no hedgehogs in Australia or North America. Hedgehogs are tiny, but they are not defenseless. Their sharp teeth and spines make them difficult for predators to catch and eat.
Hedgehogs are listed as “least concern” for conservation status.
#5. Cutest Animals: Chevrotain
There are several species of chevrotain, and they’re all tiny. Depending on the species, a chevrotain can weigh anywhere from 4 to 33 pounds. The smallest is the lesser Malay, and the largest is the water chevrotain.
#4. Cutest Animals: Sea Otter
Recently, a sea otter named Joey captured the hearts of YouTube viewers who watched as he was rescued from near-death and raised at an otter sanctuary in Canada. Joey’s daily fight for survival and his love of toys drew millions of viewers.
That’s not surprising, since a sea otter is one of the most adorable animals on land or sea. The smallest marine mammal, the sea otter (Enhydra lutris) is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. About 90% of the world’s sea otters live in Alaska.
What makes this furry ocean animal so cute? It has a small, round face and a tendency to float on its back in an adorable position. Even more enchanting, sea otters are known to hold hands when they float on the water together.
Sadly, sea otters were hunted to near extinction, and their population has not fully rebounded. Today, they are classed as endangered.
#3. Cutest Animals: Fennec Fox, the Smallest of All Foxes
The national animal of Algeria is also a delicate, slender beast with a baby face, fluffy paws and enormous ears.
The fennec fox (Vulpes zerda) is a small fox that’s native to the Sahara Desert. It lives in Morocco, Mauritania, northern Niger, Egypt, and the Sinai Peninsula. Its big ears help it shed heat, which is how it can survive in those hot climates. The thick fur on its feet protects it from the scorching desert sands. It feeds on small birds, rodents, fruits, and reptiles. The smallest member of the canid family, a fennec fox only weighs about four pounds.
Fennec foxes are plentiful, and they are listed as “least concern” for conservation status.
#2. Cutest Animals: Black-Footed Cat – Small but Fierce
The black-footed cat (Felis nigripes), also called the small-spotted cat, is the smallest wild cat in Africa and one of the smallest wild cats in the world. It stands between 14 and 20 inches tall. It has black or dark brown feet and a gorgeous, black and silver spotted coat. This adorable wild cat has a small, round face and pointed ears. Its kittens weigh only three ounces at birth.
The black-footed cat is a nocturnal hunter that preys on birds, small rodents, and occasionally rabbits. In Africa, these little cats are known for their fierceness. One legend has it that a black-footed cat can bring down a giraffe.
Black-footed cats are found only in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. They live primarily in grass plains, scrub desert, and sand plains, including the Kalahari and Karoo Deserts. The Wuppertal Zoo, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Brookfield Zoo, and Philadelphia Zoo have had success breeding black-footed cats in captivity.
#1. Cutest Animals: Quokka – The World’s Happiest Wild Animal
In the world of cute animals, it’s hard to pick just one winner, but the quokka’s friendliness gives it the edge. This small, cuddly creature is known for its sunny personality.
The quokka (Setonix brachyurus) is also known as the short-tailed scrub wallaby. It is a small, round creature about the size of a cat. Its face looks like a cross between a mouse and a rabbit. The quokka is a marsupial. It’s nocturnal and carries its young in a pouch.
The only place quokkas live is on Rottnest Island off the coast of Australia. It is one of the most remote locations in the world. Despite this, they have become so popular that they are now a tourist attraction. Locals say if you really want to show your love for quokkas, you should support conservation efforts that help preserve their territory. Quokkas are officially listed as “vulnerable” because of habitat loss.
Next up: Biggest Whale in the World