20 Animals That Have Learned To Keep Other Critters As Their Pets

Animals, much like humans, love making new friends, and the best part about forming a friendship with a new buddy is that it can happen when it’s least expected. Sometimes, animals don’t care who or what they bond with, either; they just want someone special to spend time with!

Animals have proven time and again they don’t discriminate when it comes to making friends, and it almost always results in an incredibly adorable partnership! These 20 pairs of animal buddies are equal parts heartwarming and surprising!

1. Bubbles the elephant and Bella the Labrador: Bubbles was rescued from ivory poachers and brought to a safari reserve in the United States where she met Bella, a friendly dog who was left at the reserve by one of the park’s contractors.

2. Suryia the orangutan and Roscoe the blue tick hound: These two live together at an endangered species reserve. Roscoe followed Suryia and her handlers home one afternoon, and since he didn’t have a family of his own, the two became inseparable!

3. Kago the puppy and Kumbali the cheetah: After this poor cheetah was abandoned by his family, workers at the Metro Richmond Zoo in Virginia introduced him to Kago, a rescue dog from a local shelter. It didn’t take long before these two guys became completely smitten with each other!

4. Mzee the tortoise and Owen the hippo: Owen was found stranded after a tsunami struck Kenya in 2004. He was moved to an animal sanctuary where he met Mzee, a 130-year-old tortoise! Owen uses Mzee as a sort of emotional support system, cuddling up with him for comfort. At first, the tortoise seemed a bit confused, but he soon welcomed Owen’s company.

5. Bea the giraffe and Wilma the ostrich: Busch Gardens, an amusement park located in Virginia, houses plenty of animals, and one 65-acre enclosure is home to a giraffe named Bea and her unlikely best friend: an ostrich named Wilma!

6. Leo the Lion, Baloo the bear, and Shere Khan the tiger: These three animals were rescued from an abusive human owner and they were inseparable because of what they went through. They now live in Georgia at the Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary.

7. Emperor shrimp and sea slugs: Although emperor shrimp normally live inside sea cucumbers, they will occasionally hop a ride on the back of sea slugs for a scenic little trip around the ocean floor while they feast on the debris the slugs kick up.

8. Anjana the chimpanzee and a tiger cub: After a hurricane separated this white tiger from his mother, he was adopted by an animal reserve and immediately became smitten with Anjana, a chimpanzee who also lived there. The two quickly became the best of buddies!

9. Macaque monkey and kitten: While walking through the Monkey Forest Park in Bali, Indonesia, a tourist captured amazing footage of a macaque monkey who had taken a kitten under is care! Macaque monkeys are highly social animals, and they frequently interact with species other than their own.

10. Lammie the goat and Gertjie the rhino: Gertjie and Lammie were both abandoned by their families as babies, and they were brought to a South African animal sanctuary where they formed a special bond. What’s their favorite activity? Running around and bumping heads with each other!

11. Fred the Labrador and Dennis the duckling: Dennis the duckling was left motherless after a fox attacked his mother, but when Fred and his owner found Dennis, they adopted him! The two animals became friends immediately.

12. Mabel the chicken and her puppies: After Mabel suffered an injury to her leg, she was nursed back to health and brought in to live with her owner briefly. That’s when she fell in love with the family puppies! She roosts on the pooches while their canine mother spends most of her time outside.

13. Manni the wild boar piglet and Candy the dog: A family from Germany found Manni alone starving in a field by their home. While Manni recovered, he struck up a great friendship with the family’s Jack Russell terrier.

14. Amy the deer and Ransom the dog: A sitka deer named Amy who lived at the Wild Heart Ranch in Oklahoma took a blind dog named Ransom under her care when he moved in. She helped groom him, and she kept him company for years!

15. Kate the Great Dane and Pippin the deer: When Kate came across abandoned baby deer Pippin, the loving canine adopted her! As Pippin matured, she eventually moved back into the forest, but she still visits Kate and Kate’s owner, Isobel.

16. Bottlenose dolphin and a pod of sperm whales: Researchers in the North Atlantic Ocean were shocked when they came across a dolphin who was born with a serious spinal deformity swimming with a pod of sperm whales. The researchers couldn’t believe that the empathetic pod welcomed him in!

17. Moses the crow and Cassie the cat: In 1999, a Massachusetts couple adopted Cassie, an infant kitten they found abandoned on their property. Amazingly, they also discovered a crow, who they nicknamed Moses, who had been feeding and caring for the kitten. Even after Cassie was rescued, she spent her days outside, playing with Moses!

18. Koko the gorilla and Ms. Gray the kitten: Gorillas have actually been known to adopt cats, and the famous, beloved gorilla Koko was no different. She fell in love with a kitten named Ms. Gray as soon as she saw her. Can’t you just see the love in their eyes?

19. Bonedigger the lion and Milo the dog: It might seem like this lion would be the one who took little Milo the dachshund under his care, but it was actually the other way around! Bonedigger was disabled due to a metabolic bone disease, so Milo would keep him company and bathe him.

20. Tarantulas and microhylid frogs: Although tarantulas can be vicious killers, they don’t hurt tiny microhylid frogs. Instead, they keep them around as “pets” because the frogs help protect the spiders’ eggs from ants. Scientists suspect the toxins in the frogs’ skin makes them taste bad, so the spiders use them to their advantage instead of consuming them.

Animal friendships can be tough to maintain, considering their natural defenses. The hairy frog’s ribbit is way worse than its bite. When Mr. Frog senses danger, he will actually break his own ribs to use as spikey weapons. That is one rib-it no one wants!

2. Dormice: These little bundles of cute are holding onto their tails while they still can. Because if predator grabs a hold of this mouse’s tail, it will dislodge from its body, giving them one last shot at scurrying to safety.

3. Boxer Crabs: This boxer packs a punch that really stings. Due to its symbiotic relationship with sea anemones, this crab’s “boxing gloves” are actually just some very loyal zappy friends.

4. Duck-Billed Platypus: It makes sense that this natural mashup of a species would have to come up with something to ward off bullying around the pond. So of course, they grow a venom spike on their hind legs. Go ahead, call them ugly one more time.

5. Opossums: If you’re hanging with these marsupials, be careful not to make any sudden movements. When opossums experience extreme fear, they enter an involuntary comatose state giving the illusion they’re dead.

6. Mimic Octopi: True to its name, this octopus is the most dangerous method actor in the sea. To ward off predators, this eight-limbed mollusk will shape-shift into any number of venomous swimmers.

7. Skunks: If anyone doesn’t know what happens when you scare a skunk, listen up! They stink, they spray, and then you stank. Bottom line is the skunk funk is no fun for anyone.

8. Noble Hoopoes: This little birdie’s regal name totally belays its nature. When the hoopoe suspects danger, they squirt fecal matter onto the on-comer in question. Beware its royal hineyness.

9. Desert Rain Frogs: To scare off attackers, this frog doesn’t spray poison — he renders predators useless with a spray of pure, ear-splitting sound! Pump up the frog, pump up the volume.

10. Turkey Vultures: What’s more revolting than eating rotting carcasses? How about regurgitating half-digested rotting carcasses from your stomach to distract/horrify attackers? Yep, hard pass on seeing that show.

11. Slow Lorises: What is arguably the most adorable primate is also the most poisonous (when it wants to be). If danger is near, the loris will not-so-slowly secrete a poison from its armpit and cover themselves in the anaphylactic shock-inducing liquid.

12. Northern Fulmar Chicks: As Ludacris so eloquently stated in his 2010 hit, This chick bad, this chick ain’t good. This chick projectile vomits foul-smelling orange stuff your chick wish she could. 

13. Mantis Shrimp: This bitty shrimpy’s fun colors may make him look approachable, but it would be wise to keep some distance. Old hardback here packs club-like appendages that snap shut at 50 mph to knock some fear into potential threats.

14. Hedgehogs: It’s hard to imagine doing anything but giving this little guy a belly rub, but when hedgehogs feel threatened, beware. These critters ball themselves into a spikey dome of doom.

15. Sea Cucumbers: When pushed to it, these sedentary cukes are natural born killers. It’s an inside job, but basically, these bottom dwellers blast poisonous organs out of their anus. Trust us, that’s not the way anyone wants to go.

16. Crested Porcupines: Sure, they’re cute, but porcupines’ quills sure aren’t! Don’t worry, they’ll warn you before they strike by shaking their quills while you shake in your boots.

17. Hagfish: This sinuous swimmer releases a cloud of slime that actually chokes predators by clogging their gills. If you give someone the name “hag” you should expect a response like this.

18. Blue-Ringed Octopi: This ‘pus normally blends in with its environment, but when the blue rings come out, back off. This is a sign that this octopus is about to bite.

19. Stick Insects: This crawler has a more passive approach to self-preservation. In order to stay safe, this insect simply plays the role it was born to play — stick.

20. Potatoe Beetle: As larvae, these beetles cover themselves in their own feces, which just so happens to be poisonous. Thank god no one has to change those diapers! But as scary as animals can be when they feel threatened, when they feel safe enough to kick back and relax, they’re so adorable we forget all about that vicious side…

21. The warmth of the sun, the calming sound of the ocean, the soft feeling of sand underneath your feet… It’s all very soothing. But to fall asleep face planting by the shoreline seems wild. Or maybe lil’ ele had a few too many and got a bit “trunk.”

22. Do you ever get neck pain from standing around with no head support? Imagine if your neck was 10 times as long! Giraffes actually have high blood pressure and their heart is a long way from their head, so if they lower their head for too long they get dizzy and can’t stand up. Luckily they’ve found an adorable solution…

23. This doesn’t look comfortable at all, but who are we to judge? Cats are practically liquid and can adjust to any shapes around them. When this Garfield is done sleeping, he’ll probably look like the Michelin cat.

24. Squirrel monkeys are small, short-haired, and use their tail for balance while they climb trees, just like squirrels! In some Germanic languages, they are actually referred to as skull monkeys, due to the shape of their face, or maybe because they look like they’re dead asleep.

25. The way otters sleep is actually adorable in more ways than one. Of course, these little swimmers look cute with their eyes closed, but they also hold hands while they nap in order not to drift away from each other. What can we say? They really love their significant “otter.”

26. Who needs a baby carrier when your little one can just hold you by your hair? It doesn’t sound too pleasant for Mom, but Gorilla Jr. looks out like a light. It’s all heartwarming and cute until they reach the Empire State building…

27. Move over hippies, there’s a new tree hugger in town! This adorable, big-eared little guy is called a tarsier. It may look like a bat but it’s actually a primate. They are nocturnal, which means you can find them snoozing in the daytime.

28. There are a couple of animals who sort of sleep upside down, but bats are the only ones who can do it vertically. Turning their wings into snuggies, they hang outside, side by side, throughout the day. Don’t worry, they won’t even bat an eye.

29. This bear must have had a long day of chasing Goldy Locks out of his house, eating honey with a piglet, protecting the forest, and taking the train in London. We don’t blame him passing out on the nearest tree; some days are just unbearable.

30. Despite the possible crumbs or stains, many of us like to eat in bed. But imagine if you could eat your bed! We can’t comprehend how this bunny never gobbled up his sleeping quarters, but we have the greatest respect for his restraint.

31. All that hopping around with a baby in your pouch must be exhausting! Kangaroos get hot easily, so they’re usually more active at night. That, of course, means that they are inactive by day. Deeply inactive!

32. Parrots are famous for mimicking us vocally, but this little one wanted to sleep like us too! When this colorful buddy was done hanging out with pirates for the day, he just wanted to be tucked into a comfy nest to sleep the day away.

33. Have you ever had a lucid dream, sleepwalked, or woken up from a nightmare? This dog has just experienced all of those at once. Perhaps he was chasing the neighborhood cat or having a bad dream about the vacuum cleaner. Either way, this pooch had a “ruff” night.

34. It may seem impossible to fall asleep and rest easy in front of strangers, but as you get older, you’ll notice this changes. Maybe this zoo was playing golf on TV because this guy was taking a serious break from his monkey business.

35. Quit “foaling” around! Is this less-than-graceful horse playing hide and seek? With his behind sticking out, he was not making it that challenging. Fingers crossed he got a decent head start!

36. We all love a little cat nap. House cats can sleep up to 16 hours a day, which is twice as long as their owners! However, they don’t snooze all at once: they take tiny naps when they’re feeling tired after washing their ears and chasing the little red dot.

37. Have you ever woken up from the smell of food? It’s a great motivator to get up for this little pig-in-a-blanket. Just make sure you don’t leave too many crumbs behind when you pig out in bed!

38. Is it a possum, a sloth, or a hairy man’s belly? No, it’s somebody’s pet ferret! This may not be the most elegant way to sleep, but to be honest, most old guys fall asleep on the couch in a pretty similar position.

39. Whale, whale, whale, what have we here? This was the whale version of cuddling up as a family, feeling safe with their group. Did you know that even during their sleep, whales breathe consciously? Must be quite overwhelming.

40. Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without sloths. Famous for moving slowly they are actually called “lazy ones” in some languages. Being this lackadaisical is actually considered a deadly sin, but this sleepy guy is so cute we’ll let it slide.

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