It's hard to imagine anyone not melting over baby animals. They're so cute that all you want is to hold them! They're small, their features are soft, they're curious about everything, and they just seem so sweet. Here are some of the cutest baby animals on the planet and some interesting facts about them.
Hedgehogs' Quills Are Protected When They Are Born
The gestation periods for hedgehogs averages between 35 to 58 days, with the mother giving birth to a litter of between three or four, depending on the species. They are born blind, with a membrane that protects their quills then shrinks and dries within the first few hours of life.
Once the membrane falls off, the baby hedgehog can then be cleaned. Despite their size, hedgehogs have a rather long lifespan, between four and seven years in the wild.
Polar Bear Cubs Take Their Time Before Leaving The Den
Polar bear cubs are born inside a den built by their mother. The babies usually measure around a foot long and weighing 16 to 24 ounces. They are born blind, helpless, and rely on the warmth of the den to survive without their full coat.
The cubs will stay in the den with the mother and nurse for around three to four months before going out into the wilderness for the first time. It is then up to the mother to show them the world.
Elephants Don't Have Many Instincts Early On
As the largest land mammal, it's no surprise that baby elephants are also some of the largest babies. When born, elephants can weigh up to 200 pounds and be as tall as three feet! Also, when they're born, unlike most other animals, they don't have many basic survival instincts.
That means that they have to learn the ways of the world from their mother, by observing and mimicking her actions. Without their mothers, elephants wouldn't know what to do!
Baby Koalas Go Straight For Mom's Pouch
Although many people assume that koalas are bears, they are actually marsupials. Unlike bears, marsupials such as koalas and kangaroos are mammals that have a pouch to hold their young.
When a baby koala (known as a "joey") is born, the baby immediately climbs into its mother's pouch out of instinct. There, it will remain where it is safe and warm until it is time for them to begin exploring the world.
Donkeys Are Incredibly Social
Although donkeys may look like horses, they are an entirely different species. They are less likely to be startled, and they thrive on social interactions to the point that they need them in order to survive.
Donkeys prefer to be with other donkeys, and if they aren't, they can fall into a depression. Through this drive for connection, donkeys also have the ability to create strong bonds with animals outside of their species, which makes for some very cute relationships.
Baby Pandas Are Born Small Compared To Their Adult Size
Adult panda bears can grow to weigh up to 300 pounds and stand five feet tall. However, when pandas are born, they are tiny compared to what they will grow to be. According to National Geographic, newly born baby pandas only weigh around 3 1/2 ounces at birth!
Experts have concluded that pandas are so small when they are born because the mother panda's diet is almost made up entirely of bamboo, which is low in nutritional value.
Baby Japanese Macaques Make Snowballs
Japanese macaques, also known as snow monkeys, are a species native to Japan, with some living in areas where snow is on the ground for months out of the year.
These monkeys have almost fully developed in terms of their locomotive movements between three and four months after birth and are highly social with the other youngsters in the group. As babies, they are even known to make snowballs and participate in snowball fights.
Baby Rabbits Are Called Kittens
Incredibly, rabbits are only pregnant for around four to five weeks and can give birth to upwards of 15 babies, with the average litter size being seven. When a rabbit gives birth, it is known as kindling, and baby rabbits are called kittens.
When the kittens are born, their eyes and ears are shut, and they don't have any fur on their bodies. Impressively, the mother rabbit only needs to feed her young once a day for up to ten minutes.
Wolf Pups Leave The Den After One Month
For the first 30 days after they are born, wolf pups remain in the den because they are too weak to be exposed to the outside world. They are born both blind and deaf, although they open their eyes around after 10 days.
After a month, the pups will leave the den and explore the new world. They are known to be extremely curious and playful, and even create their own hierarchy among the siblings.
Sloths Are Ready To Go Shortly After Birth
After about a four-month gestation period, a sloth mother gives birth to one pup. When the pup is born, it is fully furred, has its eyes open, and is ready to climb.
Within the first few moments of its life, the baby sloth clings to the fur of its mother's back or belly as she moves through the trees. The baby will stay with the mother for a year or two until it moves on its own, about two trees away.
Ducklings Aren't Born With Feathers
Although as they mature, ducks will grow "waterproof" feathers that will allow them to be in the water all day, they are not born with them. Instead, they are born with a kind of fuzz around their bodies.
Because of this, they are protected by their mothers for the first few months of their lives. Nevertheless, the ducklings get into the water almost immediately with their mother until they grow their own feathers and can swim and fly independently.
Owls Aren't Babies For Long
After birth, a baby owl will stay in the nest for around six short weeks, depending on the species. However, they start off incredibly small, with most being the size of a chicken hatchling.
They also grow very fast, as birds of prey are the fastest-growing vertebrae. Within eight to nine weeks after hatching, most owls are adult size in both weight and height and they also have all of their feathers. They are then ready to live on their own.
Ostriches Are Bigger Than All Other Baby Birds
Considering that ostriches are the biggest birds in the world, it's not surprising that their offspring are also the largest once they are hatched. Their eggs can weigh up to three pounds, holding a rather large baby bird inside.
A baby ostrich will be at its fully-grown height by six months and will reach maturity at around three or four years. Incredibly, these birds also have the capability to live between 50 and 75 years.
Gorillas Are Smaller Than Baby Humans At Birth
Unbelievably, when a gorilla infant is born, it is usually around two times smaller in size than the average human infant. Much like humans, gorilla infants are completely helpless at birth and nurse on their mother for around two and a half years.
They begin to crawl and ride on their mother's back at the age of three or four months. The young gorilla then begins to develop quickly and is considered adult by the age of 15.
Cheetah Cubs Are Born With Natural Camouflage
When born, baby cheetahs are small, blind, and only weigh around five to ten ounces. At birth, they have all of the spots they will ever have, although they're close together, which can make them look grey at times.
Cheetah cubs are also born with a long strip of fur called a mantle that runs from their head all the way down their back. Not only does this shield them from the weather, but it can help hide them from predators in the grass.
Giraffes Don't Have The Most Graceful Births
Giraffes have a gestation period of around 14 months. When the mother is ready to give birth, she will do so standing, resulting in the newborn calf falling up to five feet onto the ground.
Just one hour after being born, these newborn calves can stand up and walk around, usually measuring at around six feet tall. Calves are weaned from their mothers around 12 months and are fully mature between three and six years old.
Hippos Spend Quality Time With Their Mothers
Born around 30 to 50 pounds, a calf and its mother will proceed to isolate themselves for two weeks after birth to bond. During this time, the mother will even give up grazing in order to spend time with her offspring.
Once the two weeks are up, the two will return to the herd but remain close to each other. The calf will stay by its mother's side for around seven years before becoming independent.
Baby Walruses Are Protected By Their Mothers
Walrus calves are typically born from mid-April to mid-June during their northward migration. They are born on the ice, weigh over 100 pounds, and grow rapidly within the first few weeks of their birth.
The mother is extremely protective of her calf, sheltering it under her chest and between her flippers. The calves are even known to ride on their mother's backs in the water to keep up with the group and away from predators.
Baby Sea Turtles Communicate Before They Hatch
A baby sea turtle's survival instincts kick in long before these little guys even crack out of their eggs. It was discovered that while grouped together still in their eggs, baby turtles communicate with one another.
They make chirps and grunting noises in order to coordinate when they are going to hatch. When they all hatch at the same time and make a run for the ocean, more of them have a better chance.
It Takes A Village To Raise Meerkat Pups
Once meerkat pups can hear, have opened their eyes, leave the burrow, and are mobile, the entire meerkat mob helps to raise that generation of pups. Each baby is essentially assigned a mentor, not necessarily their parent, that will teach them necessary life skills.
By around three months, the babies can forage on their own, and around a year take on duties such as babysitting and acting as a lookout.
Baby Deer Have A Weak Scent
Although not completely scentless, baby fawns are born with less of a scent than most animals in order to hide them from predators. To ensure that her babies are safe, the mother deer will also typically eat her baby's waste to hide the fact that there are young around.
The lack of scent is extremely useful for the young, as the mother will leave them alone for hours at a time while she goes to forage.
Baby Dolphins Drink Milk
Even though they live in the ocean, dolphins are still mammals, which means that they rely on their mother's milk at an early age to survive. However, they are presented with the issue of being underwater, but thankfully, evolution figured that one out.
Baby dolphins are born with spines on the sides of their tongue that help to create a straw so they can drink milk straight from their mother without contamination from the seawater.
Sea Otter Pups Are Too Buoyant
After a gestation period of around six months, mother sea otters will give birth to just one pup. The pup will then heavily rely on the mother of survival in terms of food and protection.
After they are born, the pups are so buoyant that they couldn't forage for their own food if they wanted to. The pup will nurse for about six months until it is weaned by the mother.
Baby Seals Wait Until Their Coat Is Grown To Swim
Mothers carry their young for around ten months and when they're ready, they will dig nests into the sand to give birth. Seals and sea lions have just one pup a year, and the pup will stay on the land until their waterproof fur grows in.
Not only does this help them swim, but it also protects them against the icy temperature of the water. Their coat is usually fully grown in around a month.
Squirrels Are Known To Adopt Others' Young
Squirrels are considered to be asocial animals, meaning that they live alone and typically don't associate with others unless there's a conflict. However, recent studies have shown that some squirrels will take in orphaned squirrel pups if the babies have some sort of social or familial relationship to them.
Although this is common practice in social groups such as primates, this is rather unheard of in asocial species such as squirrels, who are highly competitive.
Both Parents Help Take Care Of Fox Pups
Foxes give birth once a year to an average of six pups, but sometimes up to 11! They are born blind and don't open their eyes until after nine days.
During this critical time, the female stays in the den with the babies while the male goes out to hunt and brings back food. The pups will remain with their parents until around seven months, when they are old enough to go and survive on their own.
Skunks Mature Quickly
Skunks tend to give birth every year, with the gestation period lasting around two months and the mother giving birth to around 10 at a time. Called kits, the skunk babies are born blind, with their eyes sealed shut until around three weeks.
Then, after two months, they are weaned from their mother, and after that, they leave the den. By 10 to 12 months of age, they are then fully mature and ready to have kits of their own.
Penguin Parents Both Care For The Unhatched Egg
With the exception of emperor penguins, after a female penguin lays an egg, both the mother and father will take turns holding the egg between their legs in the nest to keep it warm.
The process of baby penguins hatching from their eggs can take up to three days, and once they do, the parents take turns feeding the baby by regurgitating food into its mouth. Even though most chicks look the same, penguins can identify their offspring by the noises they make.
Raccoons Waste No Time Before They Start Roaming
Baby raccoons, also referred to as kits, are usually born in the early summer after a gestation period of around two months. The mother and her babies are referred to as a nursery.
For the following two months, the babies live in the den with the mother, and by 12 weeks, begin to roam away for their mother for whole nights at a time. They are then fully grown by eight to 12 months and go on their own.
Lion Cubs Are Born With Spots
When it's time for a lioness to give birth, she will find a spot in dense and tall grass where no other animal can see what is happening. After their birth, lion cubs are helpless until around 10 to 15 days when they are finally able to walk.
Before that time, when the lioness moves the newborns to a den, they are carried by the scruff of the neck in her mouth. They are also born with spots that begin to disappear as they mature.