Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, is famous for its winter weather and gorgeous natural scenery, but if you ask us, it should also be known for its population of adorable animals that can’t be found anywhere else in the country. In these incredible photos captured by PopShiretoko360, a Twitter user who moved to the northeastern tip of Hokkaido five years ago, you’ll find cuddly little creatures ranging from fluffy birds to lovable mammals. Just look at their cute antics photographed up close and try not to say, “Aww!”
Note: Many of the animals have “Ezo” in their name in reference to what the lands to the north of Japan used to be called.
Above: Ezo Momonga
Native to Hokkaido, this adorable type of flying squirrel is beloved for its huge eyes, round shape, and itty-bitty paws that eagerly grasp at pine needles to nibble on. The Ezo momonga is so popular that illustrations of the creature decorate Sapporo’s rechargeable transport card, the Kitaca, according to RocketNews24.
A subspecies of the Ural Owl, the Ezo fukuro is an uncommon type of bird that is primarily nocturnal, although it can occasionally be seen during the day. Wise and cuddly in appearance, this owl often blends in with the bark of the trees that it roosts in.
Ezo Yachi Nezumi
This grey red-backed vole is commonly found in regions across Eurasia, including northern China, the northern Korean Peninsula, and the islands of Sakhalin and Hokkaido. It typically feeds on grasses, small herbs, berries, leaves, and plant shoots.
The Hokkaido fox is one of two subspecies of red fox found in Japan. With eyes that sparkle with liveliness and mischief, it’s no wonder that kitsune are commonly portrayed as clever, magical beings in Japanese folklore.
Weasels are known as iizuna in Japanese. Similar to foxes, weasels have long been regarded as shapeshifting, supernatural creatures in Japanese folklore. Looking at this adorable, skittish mammal whose coat nearly blends in with the snow, it’s hard to imagine it causing mayhem and disaster like the old stories tell us!
Unlike other long-tailed tits in Japan, the Hokkaido subspecies known as Shima Enaga have faces that are completely white. Young chicks have “eyebrows” typically associated with long-tailed tits, but these markings gradually disappear as the bird matures.
Although the red squirrel is found all over northern regions of Eurasia, the Hokkaido squirrel is still a uniquely cute little critter. As curious and energetic as the squirrels we might see in North America, the Ezo risu is most often found foraging for nuts and berries in the wild.