Cutest Babies Of The Animal Kingdom
The animal kingdom has some strange but adorable creatures. From baby kangaroos to baby hummingbirds, let's see the weirdest but cutest animal babies.Animals
You wouldn’t know it from the endless cat videos on the internet, but not all baby animals are adorable mini versions of their parents. Some animal youngsters stretch the boundaries of cuteness, while others look like they’re from a different planet entirely. Let’s take a look at some of the strangest but cutest baby animals!
20. Aardvark Cubs
Aardvark cubs, found throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, only get stranger the longer you look at them. Resembling a cross between a rabbit, a kangaroo and a pig with an oddly long tail, their name comes from the Afrikaans for ‘earth-pig’.
At two weeks old, they begin following their mothers for late-night foraging trips. Here, they begin learning how to use their claws and snouts – complete with closeable nostrils – to dig for ants and termites. Even with their specially-adapted shovel-like claws, it’s still ‘aard’ work!
Easily mistaken for walking pinecones, pangolin babies, or pangopups, are bizarre creatures that can be found in the forests and grasslands of Africa and Asia. These pups are born with soft, pink scales that harden after 24 hours, and sharp-clawed feet.
Pangopups live purely off their mothers’ milk for their first few months of life and ride on their mom’s tail like a tiny monkey-dinosaur. During feeding, or if pango-moms sense danger, they wrap themselves around their babies, protecting their tiny, softer bodies. Talk about protective parenting!
18. Damascus Goat
Looking at the kids of Damascus goats, with their long, floppy ears and goofy expressions, you might imagine that they will stay cute forever. While some argue they do, the argument falls apart when you see what their fully-grown counterparts look like.
Their unnerving appearances feature overhanging foreheads, long necks and prominent underbites, providing a stark contrast to their adorable younger selves. The goats are highly valued for their superior milk in their homelands of Cyprus, Lebanon, and Syria. But we should avoid getting those poor kids’ hopes up for a career in modeling.
17. Baby Flamingos
As a bright pink bird, flamingos stick out wherever they’re found, be it in South America, Africa or India. But their young stick out even more, with fluffy, gray feathers, stumpy beaks and strange, leathery legs.
Flamingo babies eventually acquire their pink color from their parents, though not from genetics. Flamingos, both male and female, produce milk in their throats, which comes out bright red. This is due to their diet of blue-green algae and crustaceans. When digested, these cause red pigmentation in fats, which are deposited around the flamingos’ bodies.
As the babies drink this, they begin to turn pink, with the first tints appearing around 3 months into their lives. Eventually, the young develop distinctive curved bills, which allow them to filter out their own food. Until then, they rely on their parents, and sap some of their parents’ color in the process! Kids really are draining.
16. Gray Seal Pups
Have you ever wondered why seal pups have such striking white fur compared to their parents’ stone-gray skin? It turns out, gray seal pups’ white fur has an intriguing evolutionary history.
Like many animals, soft, unpigmented hair helps seals retain heat while they build up blubber during their first few weeks of life. But why white fur, when it provides such terrible camouflage in their habitats of pebbly beaches?
In the previous ice age, when seal pups evolved this trait, white fur would have protected the pups from predators in their icy, white habitats; helping them to blend in and avoid detection. With their now-defunct leftover evolutionary traits, gray seal pups are simply rocking the finest prehistoric vintage, choosing prettiness over practicality.
15. Falabella Foal
When you consider the fact that the tallest horse in the world is almost 7ft tall, the tiny frame of the Falabella foal seems impossible. Averaging between 21 and 34 inches tall as adults, and around 10 inches as foals, these miniature horse foals are closer in size to dogs than regular horses.
The foals of this Argentinian breed have adorably large heads, with a stout frame and spindly little legs, but as adults, they grow into the same proportions as regular horses. They’ll sit on your lap, but it's best you avoid saddling these fellows up for a ride.
14. Hippo Calves
Hippopotami are unusual animals in general, but when looking at their calves, the strangeness takes on an undeniable cuteness. These wrinkly little whiskered water-cows usually weigh between 50 and 100 pounds at birth.
With their stubby legs, they bob around the water to keep up with their mothers. They can close their noses and ears, allowing them to nurse underwater, without breathing! Also, baby hippos soon start practicing their killer bites; though the baby’s chomp is, admittedly, a lot less scary than the grown-ups of this fearsome African species.
13. Baby Platypus
When the first platypus specimen was brought back from Australia to British authorities in 1798, it was widely presumed to be a hoax. It’s understandable, especially when you take a look at this web-footed, duck-billed creature’s babies. Platypuses are an oddity, and their chubby babies are even weirder.
Platypuses are one of two mammals on Earth, alongside echidnas, that lay eggs. When they hatch, a platypus is roughly the size of a haricot bean, and it nurses for several months on milk that oozes from its mother’s abdominal pores.
After around 5 months, these babies begin to shed the baby weight and learn to swim and hunt for themselves outside of the burrow. They never grow out of their identity issues though, and still insist that their duck-like features are ‘not a phase, mom!’
12. Newborn Panda Cubs
When we picture a panda, we think of black and white fur surrounded by bamboo in a remote Chinese forest. But, surprisingly, newborn pandas couldn’t be more different, and actually seem more like a naked mole rat than a bear.
Newborn pandas weigh only a few ounces at birth and have tiny white hairs all over their pink bodies. The cubs can’t walk until they hit three months old, so their mothers have to carry them carefully. Though it might look alarming at first, pandas are able to carry their young perfectly safely in their jaws.
Panda mothers are extremely careful with their young, which is essential, as they are extremely vulnerable. In fact, even at several months of age, panda cubs can’t even defecate without the guidance of their mothers; a fact which caused many panda cubs to die of constipation in captivity before we worked it out. Panda parents must feel totally pooped!
11. Dumbo Octopus
Resembling a certain Disney elephant in pink, these octopus babies are the deepest living of all known octopuses, living more than 13,000ft under the sea. Hatching at only half an inch across, these tiny little creatures develop everything they need while inside their eggs, including the ear-like fins they use to swim.
After hatching, they’re ready to go, but also have an internal yolk sack to provide nutrients while they hunt their first meal. With no parental assistance, these strange octo-babies are literally thrown in at the deep end.
10. Baby Lumpsuckers
The creature in the image below isn’t something someone picked out of their nose; it’s a baby lumpsucker fish. These fingertip-sized swimmers are ready to begin hunting even smaller crustaceans and fish at merely 10 days old and come equipped with round pelvic fins that stick to all manner of surfaces.
They spend much of their first year stuck to rocks or floating close to the seabed. As they grow larger, they spend more time floating in open water, reaching between 1 and 21 inches in size depending on the species. Not bad for a booger!
9. Baby Skates
If you’ve ever wondered where mermaids keep their cash, here’s your answer: baby skates emerge from these peculiar pouches known as mermaids’ purses, and closely resemble stingrays with legs.
Each pouch – which is made of a fingernail-like material – houses a singular skate embryo, and is hooked to allow it to cling onto seaweed or other surfaces. Once the baby skate emerges, it’s fully formed, albeit a little small; usually around 5 inches long.
Though they might look hilariously expressive, the ‘eyes’ on its underside are actually nares, which work similarly to nostrils. These allow the baby skate to smell and find food. But you can pretend they’re eyes, if you really want.
8. Baby Axolotl
When they hatch, Mexican axolotls are barely half an inch long, and are translucent, meaning their organs can be seen through their bodies. They’re born with distinctive, crown-like gills, which have long filaments to increase the surface area for gas exchange.
They keep these soft crowns for life, and prey on live food long before growing limbs. After about 10 days, axolotls start to grow legs, but don’t reach full development for around 18 months.
7. Hummingbird Chicks
Hummingbirds are fascinating as adults, but their babies are even more so. Hummingbird eggs are the smallest in the world, about the size of a baked bean. Once they hatch, the miniscule birds, which weigh about half as much as a pen cap, slowly open their eyes and begin to grow feathers.
Around a month later, they begin to leave the nest and fly, despite resembling little more than a fluffball with a strange, darting tongue.
6. Ladybug Larvae
Ladybug larvae seem unrecognizably terrifying compared to the round, friendly-looking adults. Ladybird larvae hatch four days after being laid as eggs and immediately begin devouring everything in sight, often consuming dozens of aphids or other soft-bodied pests, in a single day.
The creepy-looking creature gorges itself for a week or so, then attaches itself to a leaf, where its back splits open, revealing the pupae. After another few days, a fully-formed ladybird emerges, allowing us to forget the nightmare fuel that came before it.
5. Larval Sunfish
In its larval stages, the already-peculiar sunfish has spiny features and dark rings around its eyes, making it look like some kind of deep-space pufferfish. Despite reaching a length of up to 14ft in adulthood, these larvae hatch at roughly the size of a pinhead and can be found in tropical waters around the globe.
These tiny babies find safety in numbers, with schools of relatives emerging from around 300 million eggs in each spawning; the largest number of any vertebrate. Exactly how many hatch, however, is unknown. These tiny, Christmas-ornament-looking larvae will eventually lose their spines, absorb their yolks, and metamorphose into the heaviest bony fish in the world.
4. Echidna Puggles
With undoubtedly the cutest name of the century, puggles are bizarre, spiny creatures that, like platypuses, hatch from eggs despite being mammals. Like their fellow Australian species kangaroos, echidnas keep their newborns in a pouch on their abdomens.
For the first 50 or so days after hatching, the tiny puggle remains inside the pouch, sustained with milk that its mother secretes from her belly. After the puggle starts to grow spines, its mother moves the baby into a burrow to continue feeding. After all, a ball of spikes isn’t the most comfortable thing to carry in your pocket.
3. Adolescent Barn Owls
With huge black eyes, skinny legs, and oversized heads, it’s easy to see how these young owls could be mistaken for aliens. After hatching, these ghostly night-stalkers spend 10 weeks depending on their parents, growing out their feathers, and emitting terrifying shrieks, before beginning to learn to hunt silently.
2. Newborn Joeys
Newborn baby kangaroos are just over a half-inch inch long and are barely recognizable even compared to the furry, pouch-dwelling furballs they soon grow into. The minuscule babies crawl from one of their mother’s two uteri and scale her body into the safety of her pouch.
The pouch is completely necessary, as these joeys are embryo-like and incredibly underdeveloped compared to most newborn mammals. They remain in the pouch for around 9 months, before finally hopping out into the world once they’ve developed fur, eyesight, and all those other minor things that tend to help in staying alive.
1. Newborn Kea
A newly-hatched kea, a variety of large parrots native to New Zealand, has a face that only a mother could love. Kea chicks are bright yellow around their eyes, beaks, and nostrils, and fluffy white down covers their fragile bodies.
Essentially, they look like they just woke up from a rough night on the town, until they reach 10 to 13 weeks old, when their feathers begin to grow out properly.
Their rather ugly newborn appearance doesn’t scare off predators, though. Kea chicks are prey for many animals, including possums, rats, and stoats, meaning only 27% of them survive into adulthood. But if they do, they experience a substantial glow-up, becoming vibrant, curious and intelligent.
If you were amazed at these cutest but weirdest animal babies, you might want to read this article about the best animal parents. Thanks for reading.