The internet loves pictures of adorable puppies and kittens, but the babies of rarer-seen animal species are just as aww-inspiring. You may be surprised by how endearing some of these little balls of fluff and feathers are, so get ready to drown in cute.
Skunks are infamous for using their scent glands to kick up a literal stink. Poor Pepé Le Pew! But if Pepé had fathered some skunk babies, the fluffy kits would be adorable. Maybe they could keep their stink in check, though; kits have spray control at about three months old.
The Aardvark is normally a solitary nocturnal creature that burrows around Africa, south of the Sahara. But this isolation makes photographing cubs – which, with their termite-sucking snouts, resemble little pink vacuum cleaners – a real treasure. This cutie was pictured by Adam Lewis at Florida’s Bush Gardens in 2013.
A white flamingo? Get the flock out of here! Flamingos get their red-pink coloration from the algae and plankton in their diets, so the chunky-legged chicks are actually born as white or gray fluff balls and don’t get their vibrant color until the first year or so of their lives.
It’s rare to see Emu chicks, since they’re usually guarded by their five-foot-tall aggressive fathers, but they’re so cuddly that it’s a tempting risk. Emus are flightless birds but very able runners; sweeties like these ones can roam and explore early in their lives – within mere days of hatching.
With their large heads and huge eyes, octopus hatchlings look like anime mascots, which only adds to their adorability factor. Octopuses – yep, that’s the correct plural – have lots of babies, because survival rates are low in the ocean; perhaps that’s the reason hatchlings are rarely seen.
17. Three-Banded Armadillo
This ball of joy and happiness is a three-banded armadillo pup – one of only two species that can curl into a defensive ball. Yet although it looks good enough to eat, few predators have the chance; these little creatures’ soft baby shells mature into armor tough enough to deflect bullets.
Collectively one of only two mammals known to lay eggs, platypuses have lovable, squishy babies that some have taken to calling puggles – and although that’s technically incorrect, the name is adorable! The defenseless babies are only the size of beans when they hatch, but they learn to swim within four months.
15. Sugar Glider
A gliding marsupial, similar to flying squirrels, the Australian sugar glider gives birth to tiny joeys – cuties as sweet as their namesake. These little guys have membranes connecting their front and hind legs that help them glide over long distances. If only they’d glide into our pockets so that we could take them home.
Baby sloths are among the most adorable young animals imaginable: they have huge puppy-dog eyes, big smiles and they’re hugging machines. The babies cling onto tree branches, their mother’s backs and anything else by nature; all they want is a nice big cuddle, and we’d love to oblige.
13. Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine
Adult porcupines may be prickly customers, but their baby porcupettes – aww – are so lovable with their huge round noses and long whiskers. They have soft quills for the first few days of their lives, but these start to harden into sharp spines within ten weeks – so get those cuddles in quick.
A tortoise may go through a mutant ninja phase when it’s in its teens, so lavish the tiny hatchling with attention while you can! Tortoise hatchlings are a rare find outside captive-bred programs.
Who wouldn’t love those faces? Not just their mom! Parrots are famous for their beautifully-colored plumage, but like most birds the chicks are born featherless and blind. As they open their eyes, parrot babies imprint on whatever they see first as their parent.
With their goofy teeth, furry little bodies and flappy tails, adorable beaver kits look like cartoon animals; all they need is hard hats. Beavers are well-developed when they’re born and can swim the same day; despite this, though, they’re family-oriented, sticking close to mom and dad’s side until they’re older. Aww.
9. Honey Badger
Adult honey badgers can usually be found stealing honey from hives with no regard to getting stung, or munching on king cobras with only minor time-outs for venom-infused naps. Quick, give this kit a hug before it turns into a little killing machine!
Even with a name like “stingray,” it’s hard not to love something that looks like it’s smiling all the time. But this position is rarely seen, as rays usually lie mouth-down on the seafloor. Hence, coastal swimmers are more likely to scare baby stingrays than see them.
They look like cute tiny needles with eyes! Swordfish lay anywhere from one to 29 million eggs, but few of the larvae survive. The ones that do, though, will eat pretty much the same foods they will eat as adults, only the larval versions: fish, squid and other zooplankton.
Their association with vampires and nocturnal activities may give bats a bad reputation, but how can anyone be scared of these fuzzy little fellas? These orphaned bat pups were taken in and saved by Australia’s Tolga Bat Hospital – so can we expect them to become future masked crime fighters?
Snakelets (now don’t get squeamish) are for boas, rattlesnakes and garter snakes, at least, birthed live – rather than hatched from eggs. And although a lot of people find snakes scary, it’s hard to be afraid of this little wriggler.
He may look like Super Mario, but this lovable chubby guy is actually an orphan walrus called Mitik, and he’s not Italian; he was rescued from Alaska. Walruses are social animals and don’t like to be alone, so Mitik now lives in the New York Aquarium with some new friends.
There’s a reason Disney’s Tangled had chameleon Pascal as one of its animal mascots: these lizards are tiny bundles of joy! And not only does their small size make them hard to spot, but they’re also experts in camouflage. Plus, chameleon babies have to be self-reliant; yes, not many young ones survive to adulthood.
Hyenas moms have it all – working the dangerous predator job and taking shifts with other hyena moms to raise their cubs together in a large den. And while hyena dads come to visit daily, intruders are not welcome.
Hedgehog reproduction may be a prickly subject, but just look at the result – and as if they needed to be even more heart-warming, the babies are called hoglets. They become independent only ten days after birth but still need cuddles to stay warm in winter! Ouch.