Carnivores are animals that eat meat only or at least mostly meat. The word conjures images of big and formidable predatory beasts like lions, Bengal tigers, or great white sharks. While they all belong to the carnivore classification, some of their kind are small and/or cute. Cute doesn’t always translate to safe enough to cuddle and keep as pets. Would you believe that carnivores could be cute? Well here’s our list of the cutest carnivores.
This makes carnivores an interesting mix of cute and adorable, big and huggable, big and beastly, and small and deadly.
Big Cats are Some of the Cutest Carnivores
The Felidae or cats family belong in the Order Carnivora. The members range from domestic cats to Leopards and Lions. So yes, fat and adorable Garfield is relatives with predatory Shere Khan and Bagheera.
But if you want to stick to the cute and cuddly variety of Felidae, stick to house cats that are typically small and furry. They are safe to humans but deadly to vermin.
Be extra careful when dealing with feral cats, domestic cats that have gone wild. They’re not entirely deadly but their behavior is less than adorable as their appearance.
Fossa Are Similar to Big Cats
With an extremely cat-like appearance, the fossa is quite fascinating to look at. You’re basically looking at something between a female lion and a domestic cat.
But you’ll know it’s a fossa because of its reddish-brown coat and bulbous nose with pronounced whiskers. Its elongated body, when measured from head to toe, is approximately 1.3 to 1.5 m in length. It has an average weight of 6.75 kg, but male fossa can weigh up to 10 kg.
They are the only species studied to date that is entirely carnivorous and feeds primarily on primates. More than 50% of the diet of fossa from the western dry forests are large, diurnal lemurs and, when the opportunity presents itself, they can also take on the largest of the extant Malagasy primates.
A unique feature of a fossa is its extremely unusual female genitalia, where the clitoris becomes masculinized due to the occurrence of transient genital masculinization. In some cases, the clitoris mimics the appearance of a male fossa’s penis.
Dwarf Mongoose is Nothing if not Adorable
With a body length of only about 25 cm, the dwarf mongoose is the smallest carnivore in Africa. It looks totally adorable too, with its reddish buff with specks of brown and gray. You will also see a red patch on the throat and chest.
With insects as a primary of food, dwarf mongoose has teeth adapted to this particular diet. They have well-developed in anal glands and two pairs of mammae.
This type of carnivore lives in a matriarchal organization where the only female allowed to breed is the matriarch. Their social arrangement is highly unusual in a sense that the youngest individuals have the highest ranks. It’s believed that the arrangement help ensures the young get sufficient food and doesn’t have to compete with the adults.
Giant Otters are a Crowd Favorite
Semi-aquatic, giant otters are land mammals that swim. They are dependent for survival on both land and water but spends more time on land.
Among the 13 other species in the world, they are the longest with a total body length of 1.5 to 1.8 m. They’re also one of the heavier species with a weight of between 22 and 32 kg.
In South America, giant otters are nick-named River Wolves and they feed primarily on large catfish, piranha, and characins. They beat up the fish and leave it hanging for cute otter babies to feed on.
They also eat a caiman, a member of the local alligator family tree in the Amazon River. Giant otters don’t beat a caiman like they do fishes but play with it until it gets tired and then eat it while it’s still alive.
Polar Bears – People love to talk about Polar Bears
The fact that they are bears make the polar bears cute in a big kind of way. Not exactly a reason to be complacent and get up close with them, but they’re undoubtedly adorable and fluffy to look at.
With male polar bears growing about 2.5 to 3 m long and weighing 352 to more than 650 kg, they are the largest land carnivore. They are distinct from other bears because of their slender bodies and longer neck and head.
As carnivores, polar bears primarily eat ringed and bearded seals. But they also feed on hooded seals, harp, and the carcasses of bowhead whales, beluga whales, narwhals, and walruses, depending on their location.
On occasion, they kill young walruses and beluga whales.
Long-Tailed Weasels Look Like Cute Little Pets
With their long and fluffy bodies, long-tailed weasels resemble a hotdog with legs and fur. Quite adorable to look at but nothing cute to their prey.
For its relatively small size, they are ferocious killers and sometimes feel like attacking snowshoe hares and other larger foes.
They have a horrible way of feeding, wrapping its body around its prey and crushes its skull by biting it. They also crush their prey’s windpipe if they try to escape. What is most fascinating about them is the weasel war dance that they perform to lure bigger food.
With all that cuteness, the long-tailed weasels prefer to eat their food alive and quivering and then make nests out of their fur. Not so cut now, are they?
Dolphins Are Super Intelligent but Definitely are Killers
Who doesn’t love dolphins, especially bottlenose dolphins?
But don’t be fooled by their friendly and playful characteristics because dolphins are active predators. They are adorable to humans but their prey would greatly disagree.
Dolphins that live on the coast so feed on fishes and bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Those that live offshore feed on fishes and squid. Some offshore dolphins are believed to be capable of diving to more than 500 m below the ocean because deep-sea fishes are found in their stomachs.
A dolphin’s hunting strategy is varied and diverse.
When hunting in open waters, they do so in groups and encircle a large school of fish to herd them into a big ball of mass and then feed on them. When hunting near the ocean’s surface, they roll to their sides with one of their pectoral flippers raised high. Then, using their tail flukes, dolphins encircle and then herd a school of fish into a tight little bunch and then grab a quick meal.
Roadrunners Are almost as Cute as the Cartoon
Forget about anything you know about roadrunners that comes from the Looney Tunes animated show. Because in reality, they are more interesting than fiction.
For instance, they can run at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour but can’t outrun a coyote in a foot race.
They also eat rattlesnakes, a feared viper and venomous snake. They usually hunt in twos, with one roadrunner distracting the snake so that the other one can stab the head with their bill or pin a prey’s head and hit it on a rock. If the snake is too big, they carry it around and swallow it a little at a time.
Roadrunners also feed on insects, small mammals, and eggs and small birds.
Some species of sea turtles are carnivorous and those that aren’t are distinguished based on their jaw structure that is adapted for their diet. Some species are carnivorous up to a certain age and then change eating habits.
Green sea turtles, for example, are carnivorous from the moment they hatch until they reach juvenile size. Afterward, they shift to an herbivorous diet.
Hawksbills, on the other hand, eat sponges, shrimps, squids, and tourniquets. Since most of their food live in crevices in coral reefs, this turtle species have a narrow head with a jaw that meets at an acute angle.
Most turtles in a zoological environment, however, are carefully managed with a carnivorous diet.
Honorable Mention: Sea Nettles
One of the 11,000 species of the Cnidarian family, sea nettles are relatively simple invertebrate animals found in aquatic and marine environments. Because they live in deep open waters, you’re unlikely to see them often. But when you do, you will agree on how adorable they look with their bell-shaped body and tentacles.
As a jellyfish, many might not think of them as carnivorous but they feed on smaller creatures, such as comb jellies, zooplankton, some crustaceans, and other jellyfish. On occasion, they also eat minnows and mosquito larvae.
They eat using their tentacle arms that are covered in stinging nematocysts. They use their tentacles to paralyze their prey and feed on it. From the tentacles, the prey is them moved from arms to mouth where they are digested.
There are documented instances where sea nettles are used as transportation by other animals, such as larval and juvenile crabs. In this situation, however, sea nettles become prey while they transport their passenger to its destination. The crabs will snack on them along the way and leave them tattered.
These are just some of the carnivores that look adorable and, in some cases, completely harmless until they reveal exactly how they hunt and feed on their prey.
Suffice to say that some of them are Mother Nature’s way of playing a joke on other animals and humans. They have the charm that can lure the most unsuspecting victim and then jump on them.