Yes, we know how disappointed you are to learn that the adorably fluffy and just-so-huggable red panda really doesn’t want to be hugged after all. But it’s actually not that surprising when you stop and think about it. Like nearly all animals, even the cutest and cuddliest of critters can turn downright dangerous when they feel like their space is being invaded—especially when their young are underfoot.
The fact is, all animals have natural inclinations to be protective of their habitats and offspring. It takes a certain amount of spunk and defensiveness for a species to have managed to survive for this long, and they deserve a healthy amount of respect. No matter how adorable these animals might be at a distance, it’s just not worth risking an assortment of razor-sharp claws, powerful jaws, and shock-inducing venom to sneak up for a closer look (at least not when they’re in the wild).
Displaying an adorable tendency to surf the ocean waves on their back and flitting through the water with performative skill, otters probably seem quite harmless. However, these water-loving creatures are known to defend their habitats with powerful teeth. Otters also have a habit of leaving fish detritus behind them (they’re messy eaters and don’t make an effort to clean up after themselves), which has a tendency to attract potentially disease-carrying insects.