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15 Adorable Animals You Didn’t Even Know Existed

Puppies pale in comparison to these little guys.

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Sand cat, Felis margarita, is a beautiful desert catPhoto: VLADISLAV T. JIROUSEK/SHUTTERSTOCK

Sand cat

Cute as your favourite funny cat videos are, none can compare to the impossibly cartoonish, wide-faced Felis margarita. Sand cats live in the deserts of North Africa and Southwest Asia and get most of their moisture from their prey, rather than drinking water.

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Siberian flying squirrel (AKA Russian flying squirrel)Photo: MASATSUGU OHASHI/SHUTTERSTOCK

Siberian flying squirrel

You wouldn’t think a tubby little fluff ball like this could go very far in the air, but flaps of skin by their legs help them glide between trees. You can catch a glimpse of Siberian flying squirrels in Russia, China, and other northern areas of Asia and Europe. Tourists get especially excited to see them in Hokkaido, the only island in Japan with the furballs.

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American Pika in Yellowstone National Park - Pikas are an indicator species for climate changePhoto: TOM REICHNER/SHUTTERSTOCK


American pikas are related to rabbits and hares. They might be small, but they’re still tough—the little critters can survive harsh weather without burying holes.

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Fennec fox

There’s a reason fennec foxes make you say “aww”: the North African animals are the world’s smallest canine species. Fennec foxes also have the largest ears relative to their body size, which help them give off heat and hunt prey.

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common gundi (Ctenodactylus gundi)Photo: MR. MEIJER/SHUTTERSTOCK


If you thought guinea pigs were cute, try looking at a gundi without squealing. The Northern African rodents’ toes have tiny bristles that help them clean their fur.

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Raccoon dog(tanuki) sitting in the grass.Photo: KORBUT IVETTA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Japanese raccoon dog

These cute critters—also known as tanuki—are more closely related to dogs than raccoons. They’re monogamous, and the papa and mama Japanese raccoon dogs work together to raise their pups.

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Lesser mouse-deer (Tragulus kanchil) walking in real nature at Kengkracharn National Park,ThailandPhoto: KAJORNYOT WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY/SHUTTERSTOCK


These tiny creatures look straight out of a fairytale forest. It might look like a deer, but the hooved chevrotain stands at only about a foot tall at the shoulder. Instead of antlers, the male “mouse deer” have tiny fang-like tusks.

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Harris Antelope SquirrelPhoto: JULIE A. CURTIS/SHUTTERSTOCK

Harris’s antelope squirrel

Who can say squirrels are pests when this adorable species exists? Found in hot desert climates in the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico, Harris’s antelope squirrels use their tails as umbrellas to block out the sweltering sun.

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A shot of an young bongo (antelope)Photo: NAZZU/SHUTTERSTOCK


Nope, bongos aren’t just drums—the African animals are also the biggest species of forest antelope in the world. As adults, their horns can grow as long as 40 inches.

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Funny serval catPhoto: THE LEN/SHUTTERSTOCK


Just look at that face! These “giraffe cats” are found in African savannahs, and their long necks aren’t their only defining feature. Servals also have bigger ears than any other cat.

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Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum)Photo: SERGIO GUTIERREZ GETINO/SHUTTERSTOCK


The “Mexican walking fish” isn’t a fish at all but is actually a salamander. Unlike other amphibians, which usually lose their dorsal fins and external gills after they grow out of the tadpole phase, the water-bound axolotls keep those features through adulthood.

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Close up view of a QuollPhoto: CRAIG DINGLE/SHUTTERSTOCK


As marsupials, these Australian mammals spend their first nine weeks of life in their mama’s pouch. Despite their sweet appearance, quolls are unapologetic predators. Larger species eat birds, possums, and rabbits, while smaller ones stick with insects, birds’ eggs, and little animals.

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Ant eater (tamandua mexicana) couple in Chiapas Mexico.Photo: ADRIANA MARGARITA LARIOS ARELLANO/SHUTTERSTOCK


This small anteater is cuter than its larger relatives. Its long mouth and tongue help it eat up to 9,000 ants every day (yowza!), but the tamandua also eats termites, honey, and fruit.

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jerboa (Allactaga major) with a long tail and ears - a cute little animal is on the long hind legsPhoto: GEOORGIY BOYKO/SHUTTERSTOCK


Between their tufted tails, big ears, and long hind legs, and tiny front limbs, jerboas look like a lab-made mish-mosh of several species. But make no mistake: The rodents are totally natural and belong to the same family as birch mice. Their long legs help them jump high and far.

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A male maned wolf standing in the forestPhoto: ESMERALDA EDENBERG/SHUTTERSTOCK

Maned wolf

Those long legs could even put Gisele Bündchen’s to shame. The fox-like maned wolf actually isn’t closely related to foxes or wolves and is the only member of the genus Chrysocyon. Its food choices are equally misleading—the biggest part of the South American animal’s diet is a berry called loberia, which means “fruit of the wolf.”

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Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest