Monday, February 10, 2014

14 Most Adorable Animals

I've always been an animal enthusiast and I used to amuse myself by watching countless hours of nature movies and reading vast tomes on various fauna from around the world. Rose and I have complied a list of fourteen animals we think are the cutest and most heart-melting (and if they don't melt your heart, you must have a heart like a rock).

1. Fennec Fox

These little creatures, belonging to the genus Vulpus, are indigenous to North Africa, but aren't uncommonly found in homes around the world. They make energetic house-guests, but can be trained to some extent and apparently have a weakness for strawberries (I don't have a source for the last one).

2. Red Panda

Not closely related to Pandas at all, Red Pandas have been classified as anything from Raccoons to Bears. Nowadays it's thought they are more closely related to Weasels. They are shy creatures and mostly nocturnal as they roam the forests in the foothills of the Himalayas.

3. Skunk

Skunks may not be your first choice as cutest animals, but once you get past the smell, we think they definitely rank (no pun intended). They apparently love honey and their thick fur guards them from getting stung when they're stealing some.

4. Kiwi

We're still not sure whether the bird is named after the fruit or the fruit is named after the bird. We love them both (in different ways). Kiwis, of course, are indigenous to New Zealand, but we're not sure if there are any specimens in Middle Earth.

5. Squirrel Monkey

These are New World Monkeys, meaning they can be found in Central and South America. When they're not hanging around in the jungle, they are often kept as pets. However, they are very mischievous and demand a lot of care.

6. Chinchilla

The last time you might have seen a Chinchilla might have been in a fur coat. During the Victorian age, they were renowned for their remarkably dense and soft fur. I've felt it before, it's like a gray cloud. They live in the Andes and apparently maintain their fur by rolling in the superfine dust of volcanic pumice.

7. Rock Wallaby

Wallabies are smaller relatives of the Kangaroo. Rock Wallabies live where their name suggests; in rocks and caves. They're agile and quick, often with colorful coats, but you probably won't get to see one, because they are nocturnal. Which, considering the hot and arid climate of  their habitats in Australia, is probably a good thing (for them, anyway).

8. European Robin

As I was growing up, the only kind of Robin I knew was the American version, which, apparently, isn't a Robin at all. Our version is from the thrush family, while the European Robin is considerably smaller and rounder and more closely related to flycatchers.

9. European Red Squirrel

Speaking of Europe, apparently their squirrels are different from ours, too. Over here, we seem to be overrun with gray squirrels that can grow to be the size of small house cats. Red Squirrels are fewer and farther between and over in Europe, Red Squirrels come with an accent. Ear tufts. Makes me want to get a pair myself.

10. Pygmy Hippopotamus

The scaled down version of the Hippopotamus never gets more than three feet high at the shoulder, but it can  still manage a whopping 600 lb in rare instances, which is still a far cry from the 4,000 lb of its full sized relation.

11. Pygmy Marmoset

Pygmy and cute just seem to go together. The full sized Marmoset was cute to begin with, but smaller is even better. They live in Amazon rain forests and exist almost exclusively off tree gum...that's resin, you and me.

12. Fruit Bat

Rose thinks all bats are cute; I think some may disagree with her, but the Fruit Bat is unarguably darling. There are only three bat species that drink blood; they exist only in Central and South America. The rest eat fruit and insects and are perfectly harmless.

13. Hedgehog

In this case, spines just add to the effect. I doubt they're very cuddly, but they look like they'd like to be. As the name implies, hedgehogs are frequently found living under hedgerows, or hedges laid and trained from young trees. Hedgehogs will eat pretty much anything they come across, from mushrooms to you might not want one in your garden.

14. Highland Cattle

Last is not least. Highland cattle are an ancient breed, with long, dense coats to keep out the rain and wind of Highland Scotland. Sometimes, at shows, they become poofy after being washed and brushed and some people refer to them as 'fluffy cows'.

Note: None of the images above belong to us; all rights to the very talented people who captured them.

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