8 seemingly terrifying animals that are actually friendly

  • Certain rodents, reptiles, and arachnids are often considered more creepy than cute.
  • But even the scary-seeming creatures can be quite sweet to one another.
  • Sometimes their sociability extends to people as well.
  • Although people can’t know exactly what’s going through their minds, these animals do exhibit some seemingly friendly behaviors.
  • Really, many animals that are disregarded as terrifying are just misunderstood.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that holds true for members of the animal world as well. But as it turns out, there are plenty of animals that get a bad rap as “scary” that are actually friendly and sweet-tempered.

Whether they’re friendly to people or simply other members of their own species, these creatures can be shockingly sociable.


Naked mole rats are eusocial.

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Naked mole rat.
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Wikipedia

Although this mostly hairless animal looks a little alien, the naked mole rat is a pretty sociable creature. Living in colonies of 20 to 300 individuals, naked mole rats are one of only two mammal species known to be eusocial, or able to exist in a complex, multi-generational group, according to the San Diego Zoo.

Similar to a beehive, only a few individuals in the naked mole rat colony produce offspring. The rest are soldiers or workers who search for food, maintain the tunnels, and help care for the queen mole rat’s young, as further explained by the San Diego Zoo.


Vultures have social bonds with each other.

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Vultures.
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fernando sanchez/Shutterstock

These birds might foretell death in old Western movies, but there’s a lot more to vultures than meets the eye.

After forming monogamous bonds that can last for years, vulture parents take excellent care of their fledglings. In fact, they may feed the babies for up to eight months after birth, and vultures often maintain strong social bonds with one another throughout life, according to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Other birds might get kicked out of the nest at a young age, but vultures may stay close with their parents throughout life.


Tarantulas are pets to some people.

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Tarantula.
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Bridgendboy/ iStock

Although it might be a stretch to claim that arachnids have qualities such as friendliness, fans of tarantulas swear that these creatures are very sweet-tempered.

“She is a lovely pet – quiet, easy to look after and non-aggressive,” said Claire Whittington in the Times Free Press, in reference to her pet Chilean Rose Hair tarantula. “She is pretty and very docile.”


Female vampire bats are tight-knit.

Though they have a bad rap because of horror movies, vampire bats are generally not a threat to humans and they’re extremely social in their own communities.

Female vampire bats live in close communities where they will often care for and shelter each other’s young. Some research has even shown that female vampire bats will donate blood to their friends in the community to ensure that they are healthy and stay alive, according to National Geographic.


Blue-tongued skinks like having their head or chin scratched.

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Blue-tongued skink.
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Ken Griffiths/ iStock

Although you might not think of reptiles as a particularly friendly lot, these lizards, in particular, are revered for their sweet dispositions.

“While many reptiles do not like to be handled at all, and some merely tolerate it, blue-tongued skinks are very personable and often seem to enjoy being scratched on the head or chin. They seem to enjoy the attention,” said Phil Goss in Reptiles Magazine. He has bred the blue-tongued skink since 2001.


Eels like to snuggle.

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Eel.
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OscarMVargas/ iStock

These slithery, serpentine fish can certainly look menacing. But it turns out eels may have a soft side.

Professional diver and conservation advocate Valerie Taylor became an internet sensation when a video of her interacting with a seemingly friendly eel went viral. The eel swims all around the diver and even nuzzles her face, not unlike a puppy.

As it turns out, there’s no shortage of YouTube videos featuring eels that seemingly enjoy getting pets, such as this scuba diver handling a moray eel shows. (That said, you should not pet any wild animals with your bare hands, even the friendly-seeming ones.)


Rats are playful.

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Rat.
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Heiko Kiera/Shutterstock

Although they’re often regarded as nothing more than pests, rats are amazingly social and playful animals.

By all accounts, rats can make amazing pets. In fact, rats can learn to recognize their owners, and they may even attempt to “groom” their humans, as explained in Vetstreet. That’s the rat’s way of saying you’re part of the family.


Giant African Millipedes actually make great pets.

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Giant African Millipede
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Wikimedia Commons/Yinan Chen

You may be used to shooing garden-variety millipedes out of your home, so the concept of a giant one may not sound too exciting.

But Giant African Millipedes are actually kept as pets all over the world, according to the Spruce Pets. They are docile and generally friendly, but as they are an exotic pet, they have special care instructions.