We all know the truth about cats and dogs. They’re secretly plotting our demise with adorable antics that keep us distracted from our lives, both online and in the real world.

But what about wild animals? Usually the subject of serious documentaries, nature’s fauna seem to have a more mature approach to life than your average piano-playing cat or yoga-loving dog. But that doesn’t mean they’re not adorable!

Meet six of the cutest wild animals you’ve seen, all hailing from the cold upper reaches of Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido. From fluffy carnivores to a genuine Pikachu lookalike, these little critters will melt your heart!

1. Ezo momonga

The photos below are from Twitter user Pop Shiretoko 360, a wildlife photographer who moved to Hokkaido five years ago. Amongst his collection is the adorable Ezo momonga, a type of flying squirrel endemic to the area.

It’s small enough to sit in the palm of your hand, it eats with tiny hands while looking at you with gorgeous, enormous eyes and it FLIES. It’s no wonder Twitter users in Japan have fallen in love with this little guy.

The Ezo momonga is so beloved it features on Sapporo’s rechargeable transport card, the Kitaca.


2. Ezo Fukuro

Also persevering through the cold winters alongside the flying squirrel is the Ezo Fukuro, Hokkaido’s resident owl species.

Ezo, Hokkaido’s historical name, is commonly applied to native birds and animals in the area. This owl blends in so perfectly with its surroundings it becomes one with the trees.

▼ Awww… snug as a bug in a tree trunk

3. Hokkaido Red Fox

▼Next up we have Hokkaido’s red fox. Don’t be fooled by that smouldering stare, though…

▼ Foxes can be cute as kittens too!

4. Hokkaido Crying Rabbit

And now to what many see as the inspiration for Pikachu. The Ezo Naki Usagi, the Hokkaido Crying Rabbit, belongs to a family of mammals known as Pika. No, seriously.

The tiny, mouse-like rabbit collects greenery throughout the warmer months, storing it in rocky crevices to feast on once the snow sets in.

5. Ezo Risu

The Ezo Risu, a breed of squirrel, is another contender for cute wild animal of the year.

The Hokkaido red squirrel occupies most of its time foraging for nuts and berries.

6. Iizuna

Last but definitely not least we have the Iizuna, an adorably fluffy, snow-white Least Weasel.

With a head as wide as its neck, this gorgeous animal can often be found peering gracefully over mounds of snow.

Although they’re cute, encounters with these beauties are fleeting as their snowy whiteness and incredible speed means they’re likely to disappear as soon as they’re spotted.

These six cuties prove that even the harshest environments can nurture beauty in a number of forms. Which one was your favourite?

Source: トゥギャッチ
Images: Pop Shiretoko 360, Hokkaido Railway Company