World's Smallest Animals: A Miniature Menagerie [PHOTOS]

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Sometimes, at the end of a week, you just want to curl up with a glass of warm milk and a bunch of pictures of tiny animals. So put the kettle on and enjoy this pictographical miniature menagerie:

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(Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Bjorn Christian Torrissen)

The award for smallest ungulate goes to the chevrotains, a family of hoofed mammals also known as mouse deer. There are 10 species of chevrotains in existence, and the smallest are as tiny as rabbits, weighing around a pound and a half at maturity.

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(Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

For smallest canine, take your pick: On the wild side, we have the kit fox (Vulpes macrotis), which generally reaches lengths of between 18 and 21 inches, excluding their tails. The kit fox’s big ears help out with hearing and also lower its body temperature, a must for desert living.

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(Credit: Flickr via Creative Commons/sirraychen)

Domesticated canines are all technically the same species (Canis lupus familiaris), but the Chihuahua is the most diminutive of the breeds, well-suited to its usual habitat inside ladies' purses.

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(Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Petra Karstedt)

For smallest feline, there are two contenders for the title: the rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus), which can weigh as little as 2 pounds. 

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(Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Pierre de Chabannes)

The other is the black-footed cat (Felis nigripes), which can weigh more than its rusty-spotted rival but grow to a shorter length.

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(Credit: EDGE/Medhi Yokubol)

The world’s smallest bat is Kitti’s hog-nosed bat or the bumblebee bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai). This critter, native to limestone caves in Myanmar and Thailand, is just over an inch long, and it can also make a case for being the world’s smallest mammal.

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(Credit: Blair Hedges)

On the scalier side of things, the smallest known snake species is the Barbados threadsnake (Leptotyphlops carlae). It was identified as a separate species in 2008 by Pennsylvania State University biologist S. Blair Hedges. L. carlae is about as thick around as a strand of spaghetti, and it can curl up comfortably on a U.S. quarter coin. Hedges told New Scientist in 2008 that L. carlae is probably the smallest a snake can get -- any smaller, and it’s doubtful that they could survive. As is, L. carlae can only lay single eggs, as opposed to larger relatives that can lay clutches with dozens of eggs in them.

Blair has a particular knack for finding tiny creatures: In 2001, he and colleague Richard Thomas of the University of Puerto Rico found the smallest known gecko (Sphaerodactylus ariasae), known to its friends as the Jaragua Sphaero or dwarf gecko. This creature can get as small as 16 millimeters (about 0.6 inch).

May your weekend be filled with, if not tiny deer, some small joys.

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