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42 Photos of the Cutest Wild Animals in the World

Updated: Aug. 02, 2023

Puppies pale in comparison to these little guys.

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Close-Up Portrait Of Quokka On Field
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Take a break from the puppy pictures and kitten videos for today’s daily dose of cuteness. Though there is certainly no shortage of baby animal pictures and adorable animal photos out there for you to peruse, how about some of the cutest animals in the world? Some of these animals you may have seen before, but whether you’re familiar with them or not, we can guarantee you’ll be falling in love with all these little cuties.
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Sand cat, Felis margarita, is a beautiful desert cat
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Sand cat, North Africa and Southwest Asia

As cute as your favorite funny cat videos are, none can compare to the impossibly cartoonish, wide-faced Felis margarita. Sand cats live in the deserts of North Africa and Southwest Asia and get most of their moisture from their prey, rather than drinking water.

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Siberian flying squirrel (AKA Russian flying squirrel)
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Siberian flying squirrel, North Asia and Europe

I’m sure you can see how this is one of the cutest animals in the world. You wouldn’t think a tubby little fluff ball like this could go very far in the air, but flaps of skin by their legs help them glide between trees. You can catch a glimpse of Siberian flying squirrels in Russia, China, and other northern areas of Asia and Europe. Tourists get especially excited to see them in Hokkaido, the only island in Japan with the furballs.

RELATED: Hilarious Farm Animals

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American Pika in Yellowstone National Park - Pikas are an indicator species for climate change
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Pika, Asia and North America

American pikas are related to rabbits and hares. They might be small, adorable animals, but they’re still tough—the little critters can survive harsh weather without burying holes.

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Fennec Fox

Fennec fox, North Africa

There’s a reason fennec foxes make you say “aww”—the North African animals are the world’s smallest canine species. Fennec foxes also have the largest ears relative to their body size, which helps them give off heat and hunt prey.

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common gundi (Ctenodactylus gundi)
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Gundi, North Africa

If you thought guinea pigs were cute, try looking at a gundi without squealing. The Northern African rodents’ toes have tiny bristles that help them clean their fur.

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Raccoon dog(tanuki) sitting in the grass.
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Japanese raccoon dog, Asia

These adorable animals—also known as tanuki—are more closely related to dogs than raccoons. They’re monogamous, and the papa and mama Japanese raccoon dogs work together to raise their pups.

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Lesser mouse-deer (Tragulus kanchil) walking in real nature at Kengkracharn National Park,Thailand
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Chevrotain, Southeast Asia and West Africa

These tiny creatures look straight out of a fairytale forest. It might look like a deer, but the hooved chevrotain stands at only about a foot tall at the shoulder. Instead of antlers, the male “mouse deer” have tiny fang-like tusks.

RELATED: Weird Animal Photos

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Harris Antelope Squirrel
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Harris’s antelope squirrel, United States and Mexico

Who can say squirrels are pests when this adorable species exists? Found in hot desert climates in the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico, Harris’s antelope squirrels use their tails as umbrellas to block out the sweltering sun.

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A shot of an young bongo (antelope)

Bongo, Africa

Nope, bongos aren’t just drums—the African animals are also the biggest species of forest antelope in the world. As adults, their horns can grow as long as 40 inches.

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Funny serval cat
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Serval, Africa

Just look at that face! These adorable animals that look like “giraffe cats” are found in African savannas, and their long necks aren’t their only defining feature. Servals also have bigger ears than any other cat.

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Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum)
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Axolotl, Mexico

The “Mexican walking fish” isn’t a fish at all but actually a salamander. Unlike other amphibians, which usually lose their dorsal fins and external gills after they grow out of the tadpole phase, the water-bound axolotls keep those features through adulthood, which explains why they’re one of the most adorable animals.

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Close up view of a Quoll
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Quoll, Australia and New Guinea

As marsupials, these Australian mammals spend their first nine weeks of life in their mama’s pouch. Despite their sweet appearance, quolls are unapologetic predators. Larger species eat birds, possums, and rabbits, while smaller ones stick with insects, birds’ eggs, and little animals.

RELATED: Hedgehog Pictures That Will Make You Want One

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Ant eater (tamandua mexicana) couple in Chiapas Mexico.
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Tamandua, South America

This small anteater is cuter than its larger relatives. Its long mouth and tongue help it eat up to 9,000 ants every day (yowza!), but the tamandua also eats termites, honey, and fruit.

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jerboa (Allactaga major) with a long tail and ears - a cute little animal is on the long hind legs
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Jerboas, Northern Africa and Asia

Between their tufted tails, big ears, long hind legs, and tiny front limbs, jerboas look like a lab-made mish-mosh of several species. But make no mistake: The rodents are totally natural and belong to the same family as birch mice. Their long legs help them jump high and far.

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A male maned wolf standing in the forest
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Maned wolf, South America

Those long legs could even put Gisele Bündchen’s to shame. The fox-like maned wolf actually isn’t closely related to foxes or wolves and is the only member of the genus Chrysocyon. Its food choices are equally misleading—the biggest part of the South American animal’s diet is a berry called lobeira, which means “fruit of the wolf.”

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Close-Up Portrait Of Quokka On Field
Oliver Neumann/Getty Images

Quokka, Australia

You may have heard of these little guys in the context of selfies. Known as the “happiest animal in the world” because of their friendly appearance, quokka selfies became somewhat of a trend in Australia just a few years ago.

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Japanese dwarf flying squirrel
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Japanese dwarf flying squirrel, Japan

These tiny nocturnal creatures can leap from tree to tree using a gliding membrane that connects from their wrists to ankles called a patagium. Japanese dwarf flying squirrels typically feed on buds, leaves, bark, fruit, and seeds.

RELATED: Cutest Bunnies You’ll Want to Take Home

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Tamarin monkey
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Bearded tamarin monkey, Brazil and Peru

I mustache you a question: do you think these monkeys are the cutest animals in the world? The bearded tamarin monkey can be found in rainforests hanging out in groups of three to eight, but sometimes may be found alone.

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Arctic Fox Peeking Out of Snow
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Arctic foxes, Arctic Circle

Although small and adorable, arctic foxes can endure the most freezing temperatures—as low as -58 degrees Fahrenheit!

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Two klipspringers on rocks
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Klipspringer, Southern Africa

This small antelope is known for its monogamy. Klipspringers display long-term—even lifelong!—pair bonding.

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Portrait Of A Japanese Balloon Fish Watching At The Camera
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Balloon fish

The balloon fish is also known as a porcupinefish due to its sharp spines. These spines typically lay flat to their back until they puff up, making the spines stand straight out.

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Bilby, Macrotis lagotis. Rabbit-sized marsupial. Endangered. Australia
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Bilby, Australia

Bilbies tend to be solitary marsupials, but sometimes they can be seen traveling in pairs. The pairs are typically two females who work together to raise their offspring.

RELATED: Precious Pictures of Baby Turtles

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a wild weasel pictured in japan
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Japanese weasel, Japan

Japan has banned the hunting of female weasels in order to conserve the species. The country has seen a 25 percent decline in the population of this particular weasel species for the last three generations.

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Pygmy hippo
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Pygmy hippopotamus, West Africa

Pygmy hippos are few and far between, with fewer than 3,000 estimated to be in the wild. This is mainly due to poaching as well as the loss of habitat as forests are converted to farmland.

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Red panda
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Red panda, Eastern Himalayas

These little fox-like cuties use their long bushy tails to keep themselves warm during the winter months. Red pandas are incredibly acrobatic and tend to stay up in the trees.

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Dik-dik in the grass in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya, East Africa
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Dik-dik, Africa

Dik-diks get their name from the unique alarm calls that come from the females. Both male and females also make a sort of piercing whistling sound that alert other animals to predators.

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Malayan Tapir
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Malayan tapir, Asia

Malayan tapirs are easily identified by the distinct light-colored patch that spreads from its shoulders down to its back. The pattern is used for camouflage since the disordered pigmentation breaks up the outline, making it more challenging to spot.

RELATED: Cute Raccoon Pictures That Will Make You Smile

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Close up on a margay leopardus
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Margay, Central and South America

This nocturnal and mostly independent wildcat lurks in the luscious forests of Central and South America. Their paws are specifically customized to scurry up tree trunks and along branches easily.

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Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), Pantanal wetlands, Brazil
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Capybara, South America

The capybara is currently the largest living rodent in the world. They wander swampy, grass regions alongside bodies of water in South America.

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Black-spotted Stingray (Taeniura meyeni).
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Taeniura meyeni, Indo-Pacific

This species of stingray lays motionless most days and isn’t aggressive towards humans. They have been known to approach and examine divers. But don’t bother them! They will sting when provoked.

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slow loris
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Slow loris, Southeast Asia

Look at those big eyes! But don’t be fooled. Slow lorises are the only known venomous primate.

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American Mink Eating Trout
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The American mink, North America

While this little cutie is native to North America, human involvement has actually expanded where the American mink lives, such as parts of Europe and South America.

RELATED: Adorable Puppy Pictures That Will Make You Melt

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Patagonian mara, Argentina and Patagonia

Closely resembling a jackrabbit, the Patagonian mara has very distinct long ears and limbs, making it look bunny-like. They are monogamous for life, only finding a new partner after their former partner’s death.

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woolly pig - Mangalitza Curly haired mangalica pig
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Mangalitsa, Hungary

These Hungarian hairy and wooly pigs were crossbred in the mid-nineteenth century. The mangalitsas curly hair sometimes makes it resemble a sheep.

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Round eared elephant shrew
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Elephant shrew, Africa

You can probably see why these little guys are called “elephant” shrews with their trunk-like nose. They are very difficult to trap and stay well camouflaged, making them rarely seen.

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Numbat, Western Australia

Living in logs and burrows, the numbat hunts for termites that live underground with their sticky tongue. There are less than 1,000 of these marsupials left in the wild today.

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Philippine Tarsier (Carlito syrichta), Bohol, Philippines
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Tarsier, Southeast Asia

Similar to the slow loris, tarsiers have massive eyes. In some cases, their eyeballs are larger than their entire brain. Tarsiers need to balance their large eyes and head so they are able to wait long periods for prey to come along.

RELATED: Cute Pug Pictures

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Malayan Colugo
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Malayan flying lemur, Southeast Asia

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a flying lemur! OK, the Malayan flying lemur doesn’t actually fly. The membrane that connects from its neck to its toes allows it to leap among the trees with utmost grace.

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Gold Dust Day Gecko
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Gold dust day geckos, Madagascar and Comoros

You may have seen this miniature gecko before, most likely on your television screens as the gold dust day gecko is used as the mascot for GEICO.

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Wombat at Lesueur Point. Maria Island, Tasmania
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Wombats, Australia

Wombats are muscular pint-size marsupials with short legs. They are actually heavier than they look, weighing between 44 and 77 pounds.

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Close-up of Siberian chipmunk eating
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Siberian chipmunk, Asia

The Siberian chipmunk appears across Asia from Russia to China and Japan. They were even introduced to Europe back in the 1960s for people to have as pets.

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Dugong baby in Red Sea
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Dugong, Indian and Western Pacific Oceans

Have you ever seen a sea cow? It’s likely you have not, but you may have seen a manatee. Dugongs are the only members left of the Dugongiade family and are now closest related to manatees. Now that you’ve seen the cutest animals in the world, check out these adorable pictures of animal friendships that will fill your heart with warmth.