The time of the pika, an American lagomorph (rabbits, hares, and these guys), has been overdue ever since I did a report on them in third grade. These little charmers spend all summer carrying really thoughtful arrangements of flowers and grasses around in their mouths and then spend all winter pigging out, loving one another and, probably, watching Love Actually on little pika TVs. Pikas: They're just like us.
Many of us see geckos outside our house on the regular and, like the annually underrated squirrel, never give them a second look. This particular kind of gecko is native to the deserts of Asia and the cool spots and giant eyes make it the most awesome gecko (although the Satanic Leaf Tailed Gecko is a dark and clearly evil but still awesome competitor). Anyway: geckos! They're totally underrated.
The largest rodent in the world, i.e., they're just gigantic, smug guinea pigs. Capybaras think they're better than everyone, but they aren't far from being right.
Ducklings are a childhood Easter classic, but they have gone woefully unrepresented in cute animal coverage in the Internet era. What these little fluff bombs represent is the soft, downy innocence of youth. Don't be afraid to embrace ducklings and, while you're at it, your inner child.
11. Peacock Spiders
Let us make 2013 the year that spiders happen. They eat naughtier bugs, they do awesome dances, and once you get past the complete and utter terror you feel when you see one, you might even call it "cute." Probably not. But maybe.
10. Streaked Tenrecs
A tenrec is secretly just a hedgehog with its fancy pants on. Are you complaining?
9. Chevrotains (Mouse Deer!)
The smallest hooved animal in the entire world ain't nuthin' to f*** with.
These perpetually blushing, feather-capped birds are native to Australia but are also bred and kept as pets all over the world. In the wild, they fly around in flocks and eat farmer's crops. In captivity, they like to eat people's hair, jam to their favorite tunes, and eat cheerios. Those who know them love them. Know them. Love them.
First of all, let's all agree that we really need to bring "fox" back re: hotties. Second of all, foxes are super mysterious and cool and there's a reason it's not The Fantastic Mr. Fat Cat or The Fantastic Mr. Manatee or whatever. Foxes: handsome, awesome, dapper, sneaky beasts of magic.
6. Clouded Leopard Cubs
Move over, baby lions and tigers: Clouded leopard cubs have arrived and they are here to stay. Those eyes, those paws, those spots, those noses! Is anyone else feeling dizzy?
5. Seal Pups
The puppies of the sea were super hot for kids in, like, 1995, but they have inexplicably faded from the forefront of cute animal action in the 21st century. We expect them to make a roly-poly comeback in 2013.
Let's just be factual: Echidnas are so, so, so, so, so weird. And yet, somehow, despite their almost invisibly tiny eyes and their spikes and their mammal bills, they manage to be super-duper adorable. It must be that ol' Australian magic.
3. Sand Cats
Sand-cats — or SAND KITTENS in baby cases — look a lot like house cats except they live in the desert and no one pets them. Sand cats were bred in Tel Aviv in 2012 and are being reintroduced in Israel after being having been declared extinct. May they propagate and continue to be cute and sandy throughout 2013.
These big boys and girls aren't going to win any beauty contests but damnit they are charming as hell. 2013 is bound to be big for walruses, who quietly won YouTube in late 2012 with such back-to-back hits such as walrus vocalizations, a walrus dancing to Michael Jackson, and baby walruses playing. Most importantly, we learned that baby walruses love to cuddle.
1. Baby Otters
Otters have been on the rise, and their time is nigh. These little bastards possess the deadly trifecta of being super cute, super playful, and reasonably intelligent. They are sort of like long dogs with cat faces, and they really like swimming. What more do you want from an animal, honestly?