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
The axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) or Mexican walking fish is related to the tiger salamander. Despite its name, it’s a reptile and not a fish. An axolotl ranges in length from 6 to 14 inches.
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.
Sadly, this adorable animal is critically endangered. Conservation efforts and breeding programs have had some success restoring axolotl populations to lakes in Mexico.
#6. Cutest Animals: Hedgehog
This tiny creature is known for its round, spiked body and intensely adorable facial expression. The hedgehog (Erinaceusis) is 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.
While hedgehogs are not native to North America, they are becoming popular as pets in the U.S., the most common choice being the African pygmy hedgehog. A hedgehog can cost between $100-$300, but some states ban them as pets such as Georgia, California, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania.
Hedgehogs are listed as “least concern” for conservation status.