10 Animals To Spot In The Scottish Highlands

David Coultham

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The Scottish Highlands are one of the few remaining havens left in the U,K. for some of the wildlife of the British Isles. In this article we have put together a list of 10 iconic animals that you may be lucky enough to see if you visit this area of the country. In the video we have included many more for your enjoyment,

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands wherever I go

Robert Burns

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Video | Animals To Spot In The Scottish Highlands

White-Tailed Eagle

The White-Tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) is the largest raptor resident in the U.K. From a distance they are easily mistaken for the Golden Eagle. You can spot White-Tailed Eagles year-round as they patrol their territories, and if you are lucky they will circle your proximity as they search for food, or you will see them soaring low over the water. Spotting these birds in the wild is a challenge, and a lot of the time comes down to a little luck. For the best chances, visit the reserve at Loch Druidibeg or the Isle of Mull.

White Tailed Eagle

Scottish Wildcat

The U.Ks. last native wildcat, the Scottish Wildcat could easily be mistaken for a regular tabby. Indeed, hybridization through interbreeding with domestic cats is the major threat to the species. They are one of the most elusive of Scottish Mammals, and your best bet is to visit them in captivity. However, you may be lucky and get a glimpse of them in the wild!


They may look cute, but these animals can fly at up to 50 mph and dive down to 60m in search of food. Your best bet to spot them is on a boat trip from the main land to one of the small isles. If you are fortunate to visit them on a resident island, then you really can get up close. Puffins are less afraid of mankind than they are of predators!

Mountain Hare

The mountain hare is famed for its camouflage. In summer, they sport a coat of grey-brown so that they are harder to spot amongst the heather moorland. In winter, they change their coats to an almost pure white so that they are camouflaged in the snow! Look out for them anywhere in the Highlands, but particularly in the Cairngorms.


Badgers emerge to forage on a crepuscular and nocturnal basis, your best bet of spotting them is during the early evening. The best time of year being between April and August when they are most active.

Eurasian Otter

Because otters are so widespread, there are plenty of opportunities to spot them in lochs and rivers throughout the Highlands. Otters are active all year round. They have large territories, and whilst they are active, tend to be offshore searching for food then bringing it back to land to eat once they have caught something.

Red Deer

The Red Deer is so widespread in the U.K., therefore, they are one of the easier mammals to spot. For wild photographic backdrops, you cannot beat the Scottish Highlands, and there is something very iconic about a Red Deer with a backdrop of the Scottish Mountains.

Red Squirrel

Scotland is your best bet to find and observe the Red Squirrel, although there are small populations in England & Wales, their remaining stronghold is the Highlands. If you head to any of the nature reserves where native and established woodlands are abundant, then you will have a great chance of seeing them. 

Squirrel Jumping

Golden Eagle

There is something very relaxing about the Golden Eagle. A truly majestic animal, and with a 2m wingspan; they are hard to miss as they soar overhead. You will see them across the Highlands!

Pine Marten

Because they are active all year round, there are always opportunities to spot them. Albeit, the Pine Marten is notoriously difficult to spot in the wild. The best opportunity to get photographs is to visit some of the dedicated hides located in Scotland. 

Pine Marten

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