From fluffy foxes to playful meerkats, there are plenty of animals that will make you go, “Aww.” Here is a list of some of the cutest wild animals in the world, according to the internet:
Contrary to popular belief, meerkats are not cats. Meerkats are small, social mammals that live in groups called mobs in the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. They are carnivores, and their diet consists mainly of insects, scorpions, and snakes. Meerkats are known for their upright posture and curious nature. They are also excellent diggers, using their burrows to shelter from predators and the sun’s heat. Meerkats play an essential role in the ecosystem by helping control insect populations and other pests.
The Fennec fox is Algeria’s national animal. They have tiny paws, a baby face, and enormous ears. According to the National Geographic Society, this small fox is native to the Sahara desert and lives mainly in Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, and Egypt. Fennec foxes are protected species and feed on fruits, small birds, and reptiles.
Sugar gliders are marsupials—like kangaroos—and are sometimes kept as pets in the U.S. These little animals are highly social creatures; according to the National Geographic Society, when found in the wild, they live in colonies of 2-7 adults plus their babies.
The axolotl (pronounced ax-oh-lotl) is a smiling salamander native to Mexico. It is unusual among amphibians in that it reaches adulthood without undergoing metamorphosis. Instead of taking to the land, adults remain aquatic and gilled. The axolotl is a popular pet and is also used in scientific research.
Axolotls are known for their ability to regenerate limbs and organs. They can even regrow their brains and spinal cords! This ability has made them a valuable tool for scientists studying regeneration. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, these sweet little creatures are endangered due to habitat loss and pollution.
Quokka’s friendliness is hard to resist. This cuddly creature, known as the short-tailed scrub wallaby, is famous for its bubbly personality. Quokkas are nocturnal marsupials that carry their young in a pouch, according to the Nature Conservancy Australia. Quokkas only live off the coast of Australia in Rottnest Islands, one of the most remote areas in the world, but quokkas’ popularity has turned this place into a tourist attraction.
Arctic foxes are small, furry mammals that are well-adapted to life in the Arctic. Their thick fur keeps them warm in cold weather, and their small size helps them conserve heat. They are the smallest fox species, measuring 18-24 inches long and weighing about 5-10 pounds.
Arctic foxes are also excellent swimmers and can travel long distances in search of food. Their fur changes colors from brown or gray in the summer to white in the winter to help them camouflage with their surroundings.
According to Japan Nature Guides, Japanese weasels live in the forested and mountainous areas near the Japanese islands of Shikoku, Honshū, and Kyūshū waters. These adorable creatures are surprisingly territorial and live in hollow trees and logs. While they can be found in small towns or other grasslands, they tend to avoid populated areas. Japanese weasels are solitary and nocturnal creatures that can help control mice and rodent populations.
Despite their name, raccoon dogs are primarily related to foxes, according to Animalia. Raccoon dogs are native to Asia and enjoy climbing trees and eating fruits, veggies, voles, and frogs. Raccoon dogs are social animals and live in groups of up to 12 individuals. They are also monogamous and mate for life. Raccoon dogs are the only canids that hibernate.
Viscachas live in the Andes Mountains of South America. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, they might look like cuddly rabbits, but they are actually a kind of chinchilla. Viscachas are social animals and live in colonies of up to 100 individuals. Viscachas are excellent climbers and can often be seen sunbathing on rocks or cliffs.
According to the World Animal Foundation, over 1,000 species of lizards make up the Gekkota infraorder, all of which are commonly called geckos. Geckos feed on insects and are well known for their adhesive feet that allow them to climb and stick to surfaces. Unlike other lizards, geckos vocalize by barking and chirping. They are cold-blooded and must bask in the sun to warm up and find shady spots to cool down.
According to The Company of Biologists, minks are semi-aquatic creatures with waterproof fur that allows them to swim quickly and dry quickly. These adorable creatures resemble weasels and ferrets and typically live near lakes where they hunt for insects, frogs, muskrats, rabbits, and even birds. Fun Fact: minks hiss and purr like cats.
The elephant shrew received its name because of its distinctive long nose. Despite their obvious resemblance to mice, these creatures are not rodents or shrews! According to the African Wildlife Foundation, elephant shrews are closely related to African mammals, including aardvarks, sea cows, and elephants. These little creatures live in plains and forests in six African countries and can reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour!
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This originally appeared on Planet Natural.
Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa’s work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.