From seabird cliffs and mountain lochs to ancient forests and moorlands, our Scottish landscape is home to 25% of Britain’s threatened species. While it’s near impossible to list all our native animals, we’ve chosen a few of our favourites for you to look out for. So grab your walking boots and let’s go wildlife spotting!
The only free-living native forest cats in Britain, the elusive wildcats are becoming increasingly harder to spot. But, if you’re lucky enough to encounter one, it’ll be a memory to savour for a lifetime! Look out for their big bushy tail, tabby-like stripes and striking eyes – a beautiful sight to behold!
These cheeky, nimble, ginger-coated beauties are only native to the Highlands, and spend most of their time hanging around the pine trees. If you’re on a woodland trail, look out for half-eaten pinecones and rustling of leafy canopies – no doubt the bushy-tailed mammal will be darting about above your head! We're lucky enough to have these gorgeous creatures in our grounds so we know they're never far away.
Aviemore is the best place in the UK to see these magnificent birds, with 150 breeding pairs in the Caledonian pineforest. With their brown and white plumage, some may confuse them with the common gull, but it’s the sharp ‘V’ shape angle of their outer wings that distinguish them. You’ll probably hear them before you see them as their high-pitched whistling call can be heard from a mile away. Look out for them soaring through the sky, or hovering over local lochs and rivers when fishing.
Our largest land mammal, red deer are commonly called the ‘Monarch of the Glen’. Originally they preferred reclusive woodlands and forests but now they circulate the open moors and Highlands hills. Whether driving along the country roads or out on your monthly hill walk, look out for the majestic stags (males) and elegant hinds (females). They may be quietly grazing or, if it’s autumn, making a ‘rut’ during the mating season.
Our favourite year-round resident is the humble otter, with a strong population across much of the Scottish coast. Their slinky movements are a joy to behold – diving underwater with their curving back and slippery tail. Keep your eyes open for paw prints in the sand, fish bones or even droppings along a wetland or coastline.
Highland Wildlife Park
A short 10-minute drive south of Aviemore is where you’ll find an incredible menagerie of animals. The Highland Wildlife Park is home to local species as well endangered animals of the world. From snow leopards and polar bears to forest reindeer and wolverines, there’s plenty to keep your eyes amazed and your curiosity satisfied. Check out the site!
If you'd like to find out what other fantastic outdoor activities are right on our doorstep, check out our Outdoor Attractions or Top 10 Things To Do!