12 of the Cutest Animals — And Why Humans Love Them

“Slow Loris” by Jmiksanek is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Have you ever been grumpy and then seen something adorable that made you feel better? It happens to all of us! Cute things can turn our mood around and make us feel happy. When we look at sweet pictures or see lovely animals, our brains release a happy chemical called dopamine, which makes us feel even better. So, let’s take a look at 12 of the cutest animals and why humans love them!

Red Panda

“Red Panda in a Tree Y A W N I N G!” by Harlequeen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The red panda is a tiny animal that has everything humans love in cute creatures: a big forehead, a small mouth, round eyes, a nose that’s perfect for booping, and thick red fur. Its reddish color makes it stand out, but it’s not just about the color—folks are drawn to anything that looks soft, like fluffy fur. These adorable animals are about the size of a regular house cat, measuring around 22 to 25 inches long. 


“Quokka” by hewball is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

This little cutie has gained quite a reputation thanks to its infectious smile. The quokka has become an internet sensation—earning the title of ‘the happiest animal in the world.’ People from all over the globe flock to Australia just to capture selfies with this cheerful marsupial. But despite its perpetual grin, the quokka faces a serious threat of extinction due to human activities and habitat loss.

African Pygmy Hedgehog

“African Pygmy Hedgehog” by meantux is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Even though hedgehogs might look a bit spiky on the outside, their round eyes and the way they curl up into tiny balls make them undeniably cute. They’re so adorable that some folks even keep them as pets! The African pygmy hedgehog is the one you’ll often find as a pet. While they can be tamed and kept indoors—it’s worth noting that in some places, keeping them is against the law. 


white and brown cat lying on brown wooden floor
Photo by Daria Shatova on Unsplash

Cats have been our adorable companions for ages. Whether they’re chasing their tails, pouncing on beams of light, or giving us those big, pleading eyes, we can’t help but fall in love with them over and over again. Even wild cats begin as cute little kittens, although some grow into quite imposing adults. But there are a few wild cats that stay small forever—keeping their looks intact.

Pygmy Marmoset

a monkey is sitting on a tree branch
Photo by Simone Dinoia on Unsplash

Baby primates bear a striking resemblance to human babies, which is why we often find them incredibly cute. Among them, the pygmy marmoset stands out as particularly adorable. Also known as the pocket, dwarf, or finger monkey—this tiny creature is found in South America. There are two species of pygmy marmosets, both about 6 inches long and weighing just 1.3 pounds. That makes it the smallest monkey in the world!

Siberian Flying Squirrel

“Pteromys volans orii” by T-konno is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Think squirrels aren’t cute? Well, wait until you lay eyes on the Siberian flying squirrel. This tiny bundle of gray-and-white fur has enormous eyes, a teeny nose and mouth, and cheeks that look a bit like a chipmunk’s. Siberian flying squirrels don’t just hang out in Russia—you can spot them in places like Finland, Latvia, Mongolia, Estonia, Japan, and Korea. They’re built for chilly weather and love living in spruce forests.


“Axolotl” by brian.gratwicke is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The axolotl is a happy-looking salamander from Mexico. Folks love it because it always seems to be smiling. It’s a popular pet, and scientists also study it. Axolotls are special because they can grow back their arms and other body parts. They can even grow new brains and spinal cords! This skill is very helpful for scientists who are learning about how bodies heal. 

Sea Otter

“Sea Otter on land.. 1 of 2 in set” by Alan Vernon. is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Sea otters are possibly the most adorable sea creatures out there. They’re related to weasels but spend all their time in the Pacific Ocean. Their dense fur, fluffy paws, and playful faces are downright irresistible. These cuddly critters even hold hands when they sleep, and baby otters often catch a ride on their moms. Plus, they’re super playful—making them even more endearing.

Slow Loris

“NYC – Bronx – Bronx Zoo: Jungle World – Slow Loris” by wallyg is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

You might have seen this cute animal on Instagram. People adore its big, sad eyes, tiny hands, and slow way of moving. But here’s a surprising fact: the slow loris is more dangerous than it seems. It’s actually the only poisonous primate. If it feels threatened by a predator, it can lick a gland on its elbow, and its oil mixes with its spit to make a poison.

Fennec Fox

a couple of foxes laying on top of a rock
Photo by Zetong Li on Unsplash

Foxes rank high on the list of adorable wild animals. They belong to the same family as dogs, so they share some similarities with our beloved pets—but they’re smaller and less scary than wolves or coyotes. Among them, the fennec fox steals the show with its cuteness. This tiny fox relies on its oversized ears (about 6 inches in length) to stay cool in the hot climates of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Bush Baby

“Greater Bush Baby” by Buecherfresser at German Wikipedia is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

These lovable creatures are so charming that we humans even put the word “baby” in their name. The bush baby is a small, fluffy primate that roams the rainforests, savannas, and shrublands of Sub-Saharan Africa. The tiniest bush baby weighs a mere 2.5 ounces, while the largest reaches up to 4 pounds. With their huge eyes, these little critters can see well in the dark—adding to their adorable appeal to us humans.


“Capybara” by lorentey is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This animal became really famous after appearing in Sir David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II. In one scene, it looked totally surprised while watching a jaguar catch a caiman. That’s when everyone started talking about it. The animal is called a capybara—and it’s the biggest rodent in the world. It’s kind of like a beaver because it loves water and is a great swimmer.