It’s no surprise that you enjoy watching videos of baby kittens, tiny piglets or a sleepy newborn chipmunk. That instinct that makes you go Squeeee is actually the product of millions of years of evolution. Our empathy towards baby animals is part of a process that makes us better parents towards our own offspring—we look for features like big eyes and round faces—which babies of all sorts on mammal share.
So now that you have a good reason, why fight it? Indulge in our selection of the most adorable baby animals.
Baby sloths need little introduction, having seemingly taken the Internet by storm in recent years. While looking cute is brilliant enough, not many people know that they sound cute too, making helpless squeaks to attract attention.
We all love cat—baby kittens, baby tigers—but perhaps the cutest of them all is the baby caracal, found in Africa and the middle east. Caracal have fluffy ear tufts, up to 10cm long, which are thought to direct sound waves more effectively into the ears. Kittens have these too which combined with oversized ears it makes them look quite comical.
13. Spoon-billed Sandpiper
In close competition with owls is the accurately named Spoon-billed sandpiper. Tragically, this species is listed as critically endangered with a sole surviving population numbering less than 100 individuals in the Russian Far East. The slightly better news however is that there are teams at the World Wetland Trust in Slimbridge, UK, working hard on a captive breeding programme. Unfortunately the chicks born this year didn’t survive, but WWT will continue to learn from the unsuccessful breeding and try to produce more vital young individuals again next year.
12. Pygmy Marmosets
With adults weighing only 100g, you might be forgiven for thinking they are babies of another species. The babies are even smaller and can comfortably cling to your little finger.
Probably not the first animal that leaps to mind as having adorable babies, but tiny skunks are oddly endearing. Most well known for spraying a foul-smelling fluid, they normally only do this when injured or attacked.
Lots of images here: https://www.tumblr.com/search/baby-skunks
10. Lowland Tapir
It’s very common for the young of mammals to have completely different colouration and coat patterns, which they lose as they mature. A great example of this is the baby tapir, which might look a bit odd if you see it running around in the grass at a zoo, but out in the South American rainforest where they originate, this makes great camouflage against predators.
We already know that humans find large eyes and round faces attractive, so perhaps that is why baby owls are amongst the cutest of all birds.
8. Red panda
The lesser-known cousin of the giant panda, red pandas are native to the eastern Himalaya. Their big fluffy faces make them look like real life teddy bears. Numbering less than 10,000 in the wild, let’s hope this encourages renewed conservation efforts.
It’s no surprise that we find the very cutest animals to be those most closely related to us. Gibbons are a group of apes from South East Asia consisting of more than 17 species. Unfortunately, cute babies have been part of the problem, with many being caught and taken into the pet trade.
While we’re on the topic of primates, we have to head over to Africa to mention the iconic Gorilla, the largest of all the primates. Tragically, baby gorillas have often been taken by poachers for the pet trade, and in the process adults are frequently killed while trying to protect them. Like humans, they develop slowly, taking around nine months to start walking and stay close to their mother for many years.
5. African pygmy hedgehog
Just like humans with their baby or milk teeth, baby hedgehogs shed their first set of spines and grown new ones as an adult. This process is called quilling, and an adult can have as many as 8000 spines. Globally there are 17 species, but the cutest has to be the African pygmy hedgehog, which is becoming increasingly popular as a pet.
Chipmunks are incredibly energising little critters. Living only 2-3 years, they’re not babies for long, and quickly become self-sufficient. It’s estimated that a chipmunk can gather up to 165 acorns in a single day!
Young otters are called pups and are born toothless, blind and completely helpless. As they grow up, they are well known for being extremely playful, practicing the skills they will need to hunt and be successful adults.
2. Wild Boar
Despite having a reputation for being muddy messy animals, wild boar are extremely protective parents and produce wonderfully cute little piglets.
Despite having been made famous by adverts and toys, the real thing is even more adorable. A small carnivore from the mongoose family, they are unusual for being highly social. It is very common for females to take in turns to babysit all of the young in the group, even if they are not directly related.
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Babies: Mix—Part 15
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