Alex’s Top Five
Cutest British Animals
If you’ve been keeping up to date with our British Wildlife of the Week series, you’ll know Britain is home to many weird and wonderful creatures. But during springtime, they all start to have babies. It’s my favourite time of year for spotting not just the most interesting but also the most adorable animals our gorgeous countryside has to offer. Here is my list of the top five cutest British animals you can spot this spring.
Is there anything more quintessentially British than a robin? Voted the nation’s favourite bird in 2015, and a firm friend of gardeners up and down the country, this Christmas icon is familiar and loved by most, if not all, Brits. We’re certainly big fans of this bird here at The Nature Nook – I’ve already written an article on why you shouldn’t keep a robin as a pet, and they’ve also featured in one of Jason’s British Wildlife of the Week posts. But the robin is not only iconic, supremely friendly, and wonderfully intelligent – it’s also, let’s face it, devilishly cute. Its sweet, small stature and plump body make it look like a miniature children’s toy, and as it hops about, weaving around your legs, it’s far too charming to elicit any response besides a hearty ‘awww’.
Often overlooked or even the cause of panicked hysteria, the bumblebee is definitely not as universally loved as our glorious robin redbreasts. But I think, upon closer inspection, their round and adorably fluffy bodies are surprisingly reminiscent of bewinged teddy bears. Moreover, the nature of a bumblebee is just so sweet. Instead of being scared at the presence of a bee, consider for a moment that you may have just been mistaken for a flower. These flying insects are so aptly named: they bumble about inspecting everything in their path as a potential flower from which to gently sip nectar. They also rarely sting, especially if you remain calm in their presence. The old adage ‘it’s more afraid of you than you are of it’ is most certainly true in the case of the placid bumblebee, which is one of the reasons I adore them so much.
It’s no secret that otters are some of the cutest animals around. Their soft, round faces and mitten-like paws make them look oh so cuddly. Of course, they absolutely aren’t cuddly, for their soft appearance hides razor-sharp teeth and a sometimes-ferocious nature, but that won’t stop me from loving them. Otters have become a lot rarer in this country due to water pollution and being hunted, and they are now an extremely lucky spot. Those privileged enough to live near wild otters would probably have to stake out overnight to catch a glimpse of these animals, but luckily they are a firm favourite of many zoos, and Brits can still enjoy the overwhelming adorableness of these semi-aquatic cuties behind the safety of a zoo fence.
Often seen as pests and vermin, the grey squirrel famously relegated our smaller and sweeter looking red squirrel to just a few remaining strongholds in Britain. But turf wars aside, it’s hard to look at any species of squirrel and not feel at least a little swell of joy. Their scampering runs are extremely endearing, outshone perhaps only by their incredible climbing ability. Watching a squirrel leap from tree to tree is even more impressive to me than an athlete performing at the top of their game. It is so natural and so effortless for a squirrel to display this incredible agility, and yet far from looking terrifyingly strong and powerful, they still look like sweet little balls of fluff. So whether they be red or grey, I can’t help but find squirrels charming and oh so cute!
This is perhaps a slightly weirder pick for a list of the cutest animals, but I have always had a personal fondness for the humble garden snail. I find their gorgeous array of shell colours and patterns charming, and their timid nature truly endearing. Watching a snail observe its environment by swivelling its eye stalks and slowing sliding along is the absolute antithesis of how humans conduct their lives. We are busy, fast-paced and inattentive, so I have resolved to live my life a bit more like a snail – I want to see everything around me, truly drink in the sights and sounds, and take life just a little bit slower.