It’s strange – people love fluffy animals but don’t really like fluff on other people. As human beings, we’re constantly trying to impress each other by getting rid of our fur; wasting time every day shaving it off our faces, legs and backs. When it comes to animals, however, the rule seems to be “the furrier the better.”
Around the world, it’s possible to find a super-furry version of almost any animal. Some look like they’d be nice to stroke, others look like they’d be nice to turn into a jumper. Here are five of the cutest, weirdest and fluffiest creatures on the planet:
Angora rabbits | Originated in Turkey
Can an animal ever be too fluffy? Some would say no; they think creatures can just get fluffier and fluffier and fluffier with no limit to the cuteness. Angora rabbits, on the other hand, might disagree. Their bodies are so fluffy that it’s a genuine health hazard; the long fur can be swallowed by the rabbit and cause it digestive issues (and there’s nothing cute about digestive issues). Also, the fluff gets in their eyes and they can’t see where they’re going.
There are many different breeds of angora rabbit – French, German, Chinese – but I’m proud to say it’s the English variety that looks silliest. Some of them are so fluffy, it’s difficult to imagine that there really could be a rabbit hiding somewhere beneath the fur. It’d be interesting to see what one looks like when it’s getting out of the bath, but pictures of such an event seem difficult to find (and, believe me, I’ve tried).
The angora’s fur is so soft and fluffy that jealous humans want to wear it too. Fortunately for the rabbits, the fur comes off without them having to die – it can be harvested by either plucking or shearing (meaning people can knit a nice sweater and still keep their pet).
Furry lobster | South Pacific Ocean
The furry lobster, sometimes called the yeti crab (or kiwa hirsuta, if you’re a scientist), is a hairy-armed crustacean from the South Pacific. It lives near hydrothermal vents, under 2km of ocean, which might explain why it wasn’t discovered until 2005. It’s pretty dark at the bottom of the sea, so the furry lobster is blind and its body is completely white (although it might go red when it’s cooked, I don’t know).
In 2006, a similar species was discovered near Costa Rica. Kiwa puravida has bacteria living on its hairy arms and, by waving them over deep-sea vents, it provides the bacteria with oxygen and nutrients. This sounds like a nice thing, but really the furry lobster is as selfish as any other animal – the bacteria are what it eats for dinner.
Puss caterpillars | North America
The puss caterpillar of North America is often said to resemble Donald Trump’s hair, and it’s easy to see why – the millionaire property tycoon clearly shares a stylist with these furry little crawlers. Despite their appearance, the moth larvae are far too small for people to use as wigs – at roughly an inch long, the caterpillars would make useful toupees only for very tiny animals (perhaps a balding hamster, or one on its way to a fancy dress party).
Puss caterpillars may look friendly enough but, but their hair contains venomous spines that irritate the skin and can cause nausea and headaches. It’s a pretty mean trick for such a strokeable-looking creature.
At the end of the larval stage, puss caterpillars mutate into…
Southern flannel moths | Southern USA
It’s nice that puss caterpillars can transform into moths without losing their fashion sense. Southern flannel moths are covered all over in orangey-brown fur; a bit like settees were in the 1970s.
Flannel moths are common around the southern USA, bothering porch-sitters from Florida to Texas. These strange moths are completely covered in fur – their legs are furry, their wings are a bit furry, even their antennae have got fur on (so hopefully they’ve evolved to stay away from candles). Sadly for insect fans, they’re much too small to cuddle – the moths have a wingspan of only 1.5″ and would be squashed if you tried to hug them.
Alpacas | South America
Alpacas are sometimes mistaken for llamas, but the two animals are quite different – alpacas are smaller, woollier and are marginally less likely to spit at you through a fence.
Alpacas may look like grossly misshapen sheep, but are actually in the same biological family as camels. They originated in South America and are now farmed all over the world, primarily because of their wool. Alpacas need to be sheared every year, a process that involves tying the legs together and laying the animal on its side. The fleece can be cut off in about six minutes, leaving the alpaca almost completely naked – often a small amount of wool is left on the top of the head, apparently just to humiliate the poor animal.
If you’re going abroad to stroke one of these fluffy animals (and why wouldn’t you, except the caterpillar) don’t forget your travel insurance! You’ll be covered for cancellation, medical expenses, and lots more. There’s no cover for being spat on by a llama.