Everyone knows about the more famous marsupials like kangaroos and koalas, but there are hundreds of marsupials you've never heard of that are equally as adorable. Marsupials are a specific type of mammal most known for carrying their babies in small pouches attached to their bellies. These aggressively cute marsupials may not be the most popular of their kind, but they are some of the most interesting and rare animals on the planet. And while most think of these creatures as strictly Australian, there are quite a few species living in the Americas as well.
Unfortunately, a lot of these precious mammals are either endangered or threatened, meaning there is a good chance we could lose them in the near future. Habitat loss, exposure to humans, and predation by introduced species are disrupting the fragile ecosystems that allow these animals to thrive. With increased public awareness, well funded conservation efforts, and thorough research into the lives of these unique mammals, maybe there is a chance these adorable marsupials can bounce back and survive for years to come.
The monito del monte is the sole living descendant of a near-extinct order of marsupials known as microbiotheria, a lineage that goes back 40 million years. They are not much bigger than a mouse and live in the trees and bushes of South America. Also known as the mountain monkey, these animals play a hugely important role in their local ecology. This tiny creature is responsible for seeding 80% of the fruit bearing trees in its habitat. They feed on fruits, and the seeds pass undigested through their system and are deposited with some natural fertilizer on the forest floor.7813Is this freakin' adorable?
Numbats Are Basically Pocket-Anteaters
Also known as the banded anteater, numbats are insectivores that live on an all-termite diet. Numbats have long, sticky tongues that can reach into termite-infested logs and scoop out a meal. They can also use their pointed noses to root around vegetation and search for their favorite snack.
Unfortunately, numbats are critically endangered and are facing extinction. There are fewer than 1,000 numbats alive in the wild, which is a smaller population than pandas or orangutans. The leading drivers of their extinction is habitat loss and predation from invasive species like cats and foxes. If something isn’t done to help these guys soon, the world could lose their cuteness forever.8518Is this freakin' adorable?
The Fat-Tailed Dunnart Is A Tiny Devil
The fat-tailed dunnart is just one of 19 species of dunnart, which are a group of small marsupials closely related to the Tasmanian devil. They are carnivores, going after all sorts of insects and the occasional lizard or rodent. These critters get their name from - you guessed it - their fat tails. This dunnart species likes to gorge when there is excess food available, and they will store that excess in their tails. Their tails can account for 15% of their body fat, truly living up to their name. In certain parts of Australia, you can get one of these as a pet!6610Is this freakin' adorable?
Tiger Quolls Are Spotted Hunters
Tiger quolls are the largest existing carnivorous marsupials in Australia. Proportional to their body size, they have one of the strongest bite forces of the entire natural world. The natural range of these animals has decreased significantly due to deforestation, so tiger quolls have been named an endangered species. They also are forced to compete with introduced cats and foxes for their prey. The best chance for the survival of tiger quolls is habitat protection, otherwise the species will be in deep trouble.7316Is this freakin' adorable?