A Wildlife Safari in the Scottish Highlands

Discover these Highland animals on a Scottish Wildlife Safari

The Scottish Highlands surrounding Inverness is a foreboding and wild landscape. Full of rolling glens, deep lochs and thick forests. This is the perfect environment for the intrepid explorer to discover the wide array of Highland animals that call this beautiful part of Scotland home. On your next visit to the Highlands why not try to spot some of our beautiful, yet elusive wildlife? We have curated a “Scottish Wildlife Safari” just for you! How many will you tick off the list?

Red Squirrel 

One of the most iconic animals in Scotland is the red squirrel. This little fluffy animal was at one time wide spread across Scotland. However, its population has reduced greatly since its peak in the late 19th century. This was due to the introduction of the larger American grey squirrel, which quickly spread across the UK and began competing with the red squirrel for food and territory. The red squirrel population began to shrink until it hit a low of 140,000 individuals in the UK. Things began to change in the late 20th century when conservation efforts were introduced and the population began to see a resurgence.

A red squirrel sitting on a branch
75% of the UK’s red squirrels can be found in Scotland.

Pine Marten 

Can you spot this elusive relative of the weasel? The pine marten is a small mammal usually found in woodland areas. They are fantastic climbers and are just as at home up a tree as they are in their burrow. Lookout for their tell-tale bushy tail and cat-like calls.

A pine marten amongst the Scottish greenery and heather
The Scottish Highlands is the only area in the UK with a relatively strong population of pine martens.

Golden Eagle 

You’ll be wanting to direct your gaze skyward for the next animal on our list. Is it a plane? Is it superman? No it’s a golden eagle! Scotland’s top aerial predator. This massive bird of prey has a wing span of over two metres and mainly hunts rabbits and mountain hares. You’ll have to have the eyes of hawk to spot one though!

A golden eagle perched on a rock overlooking a valley
The golden eagle soars high in the sky over remote parts of the Scottish Highlands.

Scottish Wildcat

Perhaps the rarest animal on our list, the Scottish wildcat isn’t some run of the mill moggy. The Scottish wildcat differs from a regular domestic cat, it’s bigger, more robust with distinct markings. You will have to be incredibly lucky to spot one of these elusive animals. Fewer than 4,000 individuals exist today in Scotland and predominantly live in wooded habitats near forest edges.

A Scottish Wildcat crawling through leaves and branches
Once a common sight, the Scottish wildcat is now one of our rarest Highland animals.

Red Deer

We’ve all seen the iconic photo of the majestic stag proudly standing in the middle of a glen while the mist rolls down the slopes. Why just leave it as a photo? Why not experience it yourself (from afar that is!)? The red deer is the UK’s largest land mammal, with males reaching a stag-gering 190 kg! These deer are common in all areas of Scotland and are easily distinguishable from other deer species due to their large branching antlers.

Stag in the Scottish Highlands
Look out for majestic red deer, roaming the rugged landscapes of the Scottish Highlands.


The coastline around Inverness is a prime location for dolphin spotting in the Scottish Highlands. As the North Sea’s only known resident population of bottlenose dolphins can be found throughout the Moray Firth and down the east coast. You can even take a dolphin cruise to see these amazing creatures up close. Take a look at our guide to nearby dolphin spotting viewpoints.

Dolphin leaping out of the water in the Moray Firth
Head to Chanonry Point for a good chance of spotting bottlenose dolphins at play. 

Look out for all of these Highland animals and more on your Scottish Wildlife Safari. And if you are looking for somewhere luxurious to rest your head after a busy day wildlife spotting around Inverness, take a look at our Kingsmills Hotel special offers. Happy exploring!

Wild Facilities

Oh, and check out the bottom of our Environmental and Sustainability page. Here you will find locations of the public toilets and facilities whilst out exploring the wilds of Inverness and Loch Ness. Please don’t leave any litter or waste (or unexpected surprises). It may hurt or inflict on our wildlife and our landscapes are so perfect. Let’s keep them that way for everyone. 🙂