The world’s cutest critters tour

The world is a beautiful place when you’re looking in the right direction. Want proof? Just take a peek at these adorable animals, on our list of the world’s cutest critters.

Fairy penguins

The world’s smallest species of penguin, the Fairy Penguin (also known as the Little Penguin), only grows to around 32cms tall and can be found around the coasts of southern Australia and New Zealand. Don’t you just want to take one home?

Where to find them: on and off the south coast of Australia, Manly, Tasmania, New Zealand and possibly Chile.

Black-footed cats

Don’t confuse these black-footed felines with regular house cats – the black-footed cat may be small at 20cms tall and 2.4kg in weight, but it’s a stone-cold killer that can take out up to 14 small animals in a single night’s hunt. They’re still pretty cute though.

Where to find them: South Africa, Botswana and Namibia.

Arctic foxes

Arctic Foxes are so super fluffy that you just want to cuddle them, but don’t let their cuteness fool you into thinking they’re fragile. These foxes live in some of the planet’s chilliest regions, and will only start to shiver in temperatures as low as -70°C, making them a tough bunch of furry friends.

Where to find them: northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Russia, northern Asia, North America, Alaska and Canada.

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Fennec foxes

These miniature foxes have huge ears that help to disperse the heat of the Sahara Desert – which is where you’ll most likely find these sand dune-dwelling foxes. Standing a grand total of 21cms tall, the fennec fox’s biggest predator is the eagle-owl. Maybe this nocturnal fox should switch to hunting by day…

Where to find them: Morocco, Egypt, northern Niger, the Sinai Peninsula and Kuwait

Amazon river dolphin

Did somebody say pink dolphins? As if they weren’t cute enough already. Maybe that’s why the Amazon river dolphin is a major attraction of South American river cruises.

Where to find them: Brazil Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela

Quokka

This cute little macropod is the size of a small cat and has the distinction of being one the first Australian animals sighted by Europeans. One of the main Quokka habitats, Rottnest Island, which comes from the Dutch word rattennest meaning ‘rat nest’, was named so because the Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh thought they were giant rats.

Where to find them: small islands off the coat of Western Australia, including Rottnest Island, Albany and Bald Island.

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Red panda

The Red panda, or lesser panda, doesn’t look much like its relative the giant panda, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in adorableness. These furry-faced, fox-tailed fellows may dine on bamboo just as their black-and-white cousins do, but on inspection they seem to share more traits with dogs, sloths, koalas and cats.

Where to find them: eastern Himalayas and southwest China.

Slow Loris

The endangered slow loris is another adorable animal that you just want to put in your pocket. However, you may not think it such a great idea when you find out that these appealing little primates have a toxic bite that can be fatal. And if that doesn’t do you in – which it most likely would – they may just kill you with cuteness.

Where to find them: Southeast Asia, Bangladesh, India, Philippines, China, Java, Sri Lanka, Africa and Madagascar.

Tardigrade

The tiny tardigrades (or waterbears or moss piglets), are water-dwelling micro-animals with eight legs, and they live absolutely everywhere. And by everywhere, I also mean anywhere. There are over 1150 identified species of tardigrade, some of which can survive in the most extreme environments – from absolute zero degrees and well over boiling point, to the vacuum of outer space. They’re incredibly resilient too, and can go without water for 10 years before rehydrating to resume foraging and reproducing. So the next time you look into a puddle, there may just be a cute little waterbear looking back at you.

Where to find them: in your backyard, in a puddle, inside dew droplets.

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Honourable mention:platypus

Australia is home to so many cute animals that I could make a list of them alone, but, then, you probably could as well. Koalas, wombats, numbats, wallabies – the list goes on. But one of my favourite Aussie animals that I also think is very cute is the platypus. Sure, there may be an argument for it being one of the strangest-looking critters around town – it kind of looks like a hybrid of five different animals – but that’s what makes it so oddly adorable.

Do you have a favourite adorable animal that’s not on this list?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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