17 of the World’s Coolest and Cutest Animals

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From 7,000 meters below sea level to high in the Andes Mountains, the world is home to incredible (and sometimes just plain adorable) animals that many of us have never seen. The following are some of the coolest, cutest and most majestic animals that call Earth’s many different habitats home.

#1. Irrawaddy Dolphin

Photo credit: exilism
Photo credit: exilism

Where they’re found: South and Southeast Asia, the Ayeyarwady River, the Mahakam River and the Mekong River.

The populations of Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River between Cambodia and Laos are critically endangered, and less than 85 are expected to exist in that area today.

#2. Rock Hyrax

Photo credit: Vilseskogen
Photo credit: Vilseskogen

Where they’re found: Southern Africa, Eastern Africa, West/Central Africa

Although the hyrax resembles a rodent, it’s actually believed to be the closest living relative of the elephant.

#3. Sunda Colugo

Photo credit: Andrea Schieber
Photo credit: Andrea Schieber

Where they’re found: Southeast Asia (mostly Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines)

The sunda colugo is also referred to as a sunda flying lemur, but it is not actually a lemur, and it can’t actually fly. Although, it is a skilled climber and can glide over 100 meters.

#4. Koala

Photo credit: Justin Brown
Photo credit: Justin Brown

Where they’re found: Southeastern and Eastern Australia

People often refer to these adorable, eucalyptus-tree-dwelling animals as koala bears, but they’re actually marsupials and are more similar to kangaroos and wallabees than bears.

#5. Chinchilla

Photo credit: Santi88fe
Photo credit: Santi88fe

Where they’re found: The high Andes Mountains, South America

Chinchillas roll around in the dust to bathe. Their fur is so dense that it’s difficult for them to completely dry out when wet.

#6. Slow Loris

Photo credit: Josh More
Photo credit: Josh More

Where they’re found: Southwestern China, Southeast Asia, Western Indonesia

The slow loris may look like an animal you want to keep as a pet, but it’s actually one of few mammals in the world with a toxic bite.

#7. Harp Seal

Photo credit: yeimaya
Photo credit: yeimaya

Where they’re found: North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans

When mating season comes around, male harp seals will dance to impress potential mates. And once a baby is born, a mother can distinguish it from hundreds of other “pups” by its smell alone.

#8. Fennec Fox

Photo credit: Cloudtail
Photo credit: Cloudtail

Where they’re found: Northern Africa

The fennec fox is the smallest of all of the foxes in the world at roughly 15-centimeters in length. Their tall, bat-like ears keep them cool by radiating heat.

#9. Three-Toed Sloth

Photo credit: Martha de Jong-Lantink
Photo credit: Martha de Jong-Lantink

Where they’re found: Central and South America

The three-toed sloth is known to be the slowest mammal in the world. They spend 15-20 hours every day sleeping up in a tree, which is also where they eat and mate.

#10. Grasshopper Mouse

Photo credit: Wilfbuck
Photo credit: Wilfbuck

Where they’re found: Western North America (from Central Canada to Northern Mexico)

The grasshopper mouse is often called the “wolf of the mouse world,” because it prefers to eat insects, lizards and other rodents before it will resort to the typical mouse meal of seeds.

#11. Spotted Salamander

Photo credit: Distant Hill Gardens
Photo credit: Distant Hill Gardens

Where they’re found: Eastern Canada and Eastern/Central United States

Despite their unique yellow or orange spots and long length (up to 23 centimeters), spotted salamanders are often tough to find. They spend most of their lives — aside from their feeding and mating times — hiding under rocks and logs.

#12. Royal Antelope

Photo credit: Loren Javier
Photo credit: Loren Javier

Where they’re found: Western Africa

The royal antelope is the world’s smallest antelope, measuring about the same size as a hare (roughly 25 centimeters tall). These adorable little antelopes tend to hang out in tall vegetation and are not often seen by humans.

#13. Little Blue Penguin

Photo credit: Ken and Nyetta
Photo credit: Ken and Nyetta

Where they’re found: New Zealand and Australia (inshore waters and coasts)

After the female little blue penguin lays one or two eggs, she and her male partner take turns sitting on them for roughly 36 days until the eggs hatch.

#14. Angora Rabbit

Photo credit: vjmarisphotos
Photo credit: vjmarisphotos

Where they’re found: Originally bred in Turkey, but now a domestic pet in many parts of the world.

Angora rabbits are known (and often bred) for their extremely fluffy fur that is finer and softer than cashmere. They’re so furry that the face is often the only part of the body able to be seen.

#15. White-Faced Saki Monkey

Photo credit: Jeroen Kransen
Photo credit: Jeroen Kransen

Where they’re found: North and Central South American rainforests (Venezuela, the Guianas and Brazil)

Male and female white-faced saki monkeys look vastly different from each other. Male saki monkeys are primarily black with a white face and female saki monkeys are a brownish color with lighter strips around their nose and mouth.

#16. Emperor Tamarin

Photo credit: Kevin Barrett
Photo credit: Kevin Barrett

Where they’re found: Lowland rainforests of Peru, Brazil and Bolivia

The emperor tamarin is named for its long, curled, white mustache that resembles that of an imperial emperor — even the babies and females sport this stylish facial feature.

#17. Dumbo Octopus

Photo credit: NOAA Ocean Explorer
Photo credit: NOAA Ocean Explorer

Where it is found: Seafloors off the coast of New Zealand, Australia, Western United States, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea

The dumbo octopus is said to hover just slightly above the seafloor at depths ranging from 400 meters to 7,000 meters below sea level. Large ear-like fins on top of the body cause the dumbo octopus to resemble the Disney elephant after which it is named.

 

About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a travel writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and surfing new waves.

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