Eric is a science and technology teacher who is a bookworm and logophile. He often writes about scientific thought, theories and research.
What Are the Cutest Animals in the World?
Have you seen a tiny, colorful spider that dances to woo a female or the lovable smallest bird in the world that resembles a bumblebee? Yes, they exist! You probably know that there are many adorable animals on our planet, but this list presents an unusual group of them that you may never have seen or heard of!
They are found everywhere, from the hottest and coldest parts of the earth to the highest and deepest points of the planet. They are scurrying around, swimming in the sea, or flying in the sky. Curious to see these cute creatures and want to learn facts about them?
This article discusses the following 10 animals, which are some of the cutest and most adorable (and unusual) in the world:
1. Peacock Spider
3. Fennec Fox
4. Slow Loris
5. Least Weasel
6. Sugar Glider
8. Common Brushtail Possum
10. Bee Hummingbird
1. Peacock Spider
There are many different species of peacock spiders. These species fall within the Maratus genus of the jumping spider family (Salticidae), and all Maratus species are native to Australia except for one in China. The name comes from the extremely vivid coloration on the upper surface of the abdomen of the males. The males show off their abdomen to attract females during courtship dances. These dances evoke a peacock displaying its tail feathers to attract a peahen. During the courtship dance, the males also raise, tremble, and shake their abdomen together with their third pair of legs.
A Male Peacock Spider Courting a Female
The jumping spiders show sexual dimorphism, meaning, the males are distinguishable from females; the females are entirely brown and larger than males. They are very tiny arachnids about the same size as a grain of rice, approximately around 4 millimeters long. Unlike many others of their species, peacock spiders don’t trap prey using a woven web. Instead, they are ground-dwelling and stalk prey.
Scientific name: Arctictis binturong
The bearcat, also known as "binturong," is a member of the Viverridae family, which also includes genets and civets. At the first glance, it looks like a weird mash-up of a bear and cat, hence its name. It looks like it has the head of a cat and the body of a black bear.
Aside from its physical appearance, it also shows some cat and bear behaviors. As for the cat, it purrs and grooms by licking its coat and wiping its head using its front paws. As for the bear, it walks with a bear-like gait. It also has a prehensile tail, like monkeys, which it uses as a "fifth hand" in climbing a tree.
An interesting thing about the bearcat is it is not just cute but also smells exactly like buttered popcorn. It has potent scent glands on its genitals that secrete the popcorn-smelling substance. It leaves the scent to mark territory or to attract a mate.
The animal is slightly larger than a dog. It feeds mainly on fruits and figs but has been known to eat eggs, birds, and insects. It is native to India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Vietnam, China, the Philippines, and many parts of Southeast Asia.
3. Fennec Fox
Scientific name: Vulpes zerda
The fennec fox is native to the desert area of Northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. It is the smallest member of the dog family (Canidae), about the same size as a house cat. It is a social animal and remains in contact with its group through a variety of sounds such as growling and chattering.
Fennec Fox Compilation
The fennec fox has adapted to its environment over time. It can survive without drinking any water, getting needed moisture from its diet. It feeds on plant matter, insects, eggs, and many kinds of small vertebrates.
It has a light brown coat that reflects sunlight and serves as camouflage in the dunes. The soles of its paws have thick, dense fur that provides insulation against the hot desert sands when walking. It has oversized ears, which help the animal to dispel extra body heat and also provide the fox with excellent hearing.
4. Slow Loris
There are eight species of slow lorises that scientists have named and described. Slow lorises fall in the genus Nycticebus in a primate family Lorisidae. Depending on the species, their color range can be black, brown, white, or gray and they may vary in size from 18 - 38 cm (7- 15 in) long. They have a round head, large eyes, small ears, a narrow snout, and a heavily built body. These nocturnal creatures move very slow and can only move at an average speed of 2 km/hr, hence their name. They feed on plant matter, bugs, eggs, and small vertebrates. They can be found in India, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and many parts of Southeast Asia.
Despite their cuteness, they produce a toxic substance, a trait that is unique in the primate world. The substance is secreted from the side of their elbows and is only activated when mixed with saliva. They spread the toxic mixture on their fur so they can have protection against predators. They also apply the mixture to their teeth so they can have toxic bites.
5. Least Weasel
Scientific name: Mustela nivalis
The least weasel is the smallest carnivorous mammal in the world at approximately 5 inches (12.7 cm) long. Although tiny, it is capable of killing prey larger than itself. It hunts for rabbits, rodents, birds, reptiles, and fish.
Like other weasels, its body is slender and elongated, and the tail and legs are short. It is found in the cold and snowy areas of North America, Europe, and Asia. Depending on the season, its color changes. Generally, the animal is brown during summer, which allows it to camouflage in brown barks, dried leaves, and soil. In the winter, however, it molts and grows a white coat which allows the animal to blend into the icy and snowy environment.
6. Sugar Glider
Scientific name: Petaurus breviceps
The sugar glider is a very tiny nocturnal marsupial found in Australia and New Guinea. It can grow up to 6.3 inches (16 cm long) and can weigh 120 g (0.25 lbs). It has big eyes, a small pink nose, and strong teeth that can peel the bark of a tree. It has blue-gray fur, a white underbelly, and a black stripe on its face.
Sugar Glider Compilation
The name is derived from two facts: that it loves eating sweet foods such as sweet saps, nectars, and fruits, and that it possesses membranous extensions that help it glide from one tree to another. The fluffy, prehensile tail helps it to steer and change direction when gliding. It is a very active and playful animal that humans can bond with, making it a popular exotic pet.
Scientific name: Synchiropus splendidus
Mandarinfish is a colorful marine fish native to Japan, Taiwan, The Philippines, Malaysia, the Coral Triangle region, Papua New Guinea, and Australia. It got its name from its bright coloration, which evokes the garment of the Imperial Chinese mandarin. The color warns predators that they are toxic to consume. The fish has no scales; instead, its skin secretes toxic mucus that helps to deter enemies and parasites.
The Magical Courtship and Mating Dance of the Mandarinfish
Like the peacock spider, it is known for its magical courtship and mating dance. Males perform a flashy dance to impress a female; the female puts her pectoral fin on the pectoral fin of the male which she has chosen to be her partner, somewhat holding hands. They then rise slowly together and swim quickly downward while spawning sperms and eggs.
8. Common Brushtail Possum
Scientific name: Trichosurus vulpecula
The brushtail possum is a nocturnal marsupial native to Australia. It is a large possum that can weigh up to 4.5 kg (10 lbs). It has a long snout, large ears, a pink nose, and long whiskers. It has a heavy build, thick fur, and a long, bushy, prehensile tail.
It has a scent gland on its chest that secretes a reddish fluid which serves to mark territorial boundaries. Depending on the subspecies, the coloration is varied but it can be silver-grey, brown, black, or gold. It spends its daytime sleeping in the tree hollow, and at night it forages for plants, insects, eggs, and small vertebrates.
9. Long-Eared Jerboa
Scientific name: Euchoreutes naso
The long-eared jerboa is a small, solitary, nocturnal, leaping rodent native to the arid areas of Northern Africa and Asia. It is a great jumper and can leap some 6 ft (1.8 m) in a single bound. It has a body of a mouse and rabbit-like large ears. It has short forelimbs and very long hind legs.
During the day, it spends its time in a burrow to escape predators and the extreme temperature of the desert. At night, it forages plants, seeds, and insects. Like the fennec fox, it can survive without ever drinking any water, getting needed moisture from the food that it feeds.
10. Bee Hummingbird
Scientific name: Mellisuga helenae
The bee hummingbird is the smallest species of bird in the world. It can only grow up to 6 cm (2.4 inches) long and has a weight of approximately 2.5 g (0.08 ounce). Due to its body size, sometimes, it is mistakenly thought of as an insect.
The name is derived from its bee-sized body and its very fast flaps — around 200 times per second — that produce a buzzing sound resembling that of a bee. Like other hummingbirds, it has bright, iridescent, colorful plumage. It has a strawlike beak which is specialized for sipping on flower nectar. This species is endemic to Cuba.
- Maratus: Peacock Spider | Animal Diversity Web
- Bearcat Facts - Animals of Asia | WorldAtlas
Also known as the Binturong, bearcats are nimble omnivores of the southeastern Asian jungles, but they are a vulnerable species today.
- Fennec Fox | National Geographic
The fennec fox is the smallest of all the world's foxes, weighing only 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram).
- Slow Loris | Wikipedia
- Mustela nivalis: Least Weasel | Animal Diversity Web
- Sugar Glider - Description, Habitat, Image, Diet, and Interesting Facts | Animal Network
Everything you should know about the Sugar Glider. The Sugar Glider is a tiny marsupial that can glide through the air by flaps between its legs!
- Diving with Mandarinfish - Creature Features | Dive The World
All you need to know about these fascinating and colourful fish, and where you can dive with them.
- Trichosurus vulpecula: Silver-Grey Brushtail Possum | Animal Diversity Web
- Jerboa Animal Facts | AZ Animals
Enjoy this expertly researched article on the Jerboa, including where Jerboa s live, what they eat & much more. Now with high quality pictures of Jerboas.
- Absurd Creature of the Week: The World's Tiniest Bird Weighs Less Than a Dime | WIRED
Cuba is home to the smallest bird in the world: the bee hummingbird, which weighs a mere 1/15 of an ounce.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Eric Caunca
fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on August 25, 2021:
Eric, what a fascinating article, and I loved the photos. It was a very informative piece about animals I knew nothing about. Thanks for sharing.
Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on August 24, 2021:
Eric, I'm glad that I finally caught your lovely article in my feed. It was an interesting and joyful read. Thanks for sharing about these fascinating animals.
Blessings to you!!
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 24, 2021:
That spider at the top of your article has amazing colors! Thanks for giving us a look at less commonly seen animals.
John Hansen from Gondwana Land on August 24, 2021:
This is a very interesting article, Eric, and I enjoyed reading about the animals you featured. I enjoyed the peacock spider video especially. I have seen these spiders but they are small you really need to look closely or have a magnifying glass to appreciate them.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 24, 2021:
The animals included in your article are surely unique, Eric. I had never seen mist of them. I enjoyed reading your article. It was very informative.