From adders and Arctic skua to wildcats and wood anemones, Scotland is home to a huge diversity of wildlife.

Browse our species profiles below to find out more about some of Scotland’s wildlife.

List of species

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142 records found

Adder
Vipera berus

Adders are relatively small, stocky snakes which prefer woodland, heathland and moorland habitat. They are grey or reddish brown, with

Arctic skua
Stercorarius parasiticus

The arctic skua is a large seabird about the size of a common gull. Arctic skuas are pirates: chasing other

Arctic tern
Sterna paradisaea

The Arctic tern is a medium-sized tern which nests in colonies on sand and shingle beaches along the coast. Common

Atlantic salmon
Salmo salar

Atlantic salmon can be very large fish, growing over a metre in length. They are found in the cleanest rivers,

Badger
Meles meles

One of Scotland’s most charismatic mammals, the badger is a member of the mustelid family (the same group as stoats,

Barn owl
Tyto alba

Perhaps the most familiar owl, the barn owl will often hunt during the daytime and can be seen ‘quartering’ over

Basking Shark
Cetorhinus maximus

The basking shark is the second largest fish in our oceans – its relative the whale shark being the biggest.

Eurasian beaver
Castor fiber

Once a common sight across the UK, the Eurasian beaver was hunted to extinction in Britain around 400 years ago.

Bell heather
Erica cinerea

Bell heather is found in a variety of harsh habitats including heathland, acidic soils, open woodland and even coastal areas.

Black Grouse
Tetrao tetrix

The black grouse is a large gamebird about the same size as a female pheasant. Males are unmistakable black birds

Black-headed gull
Chroicocephalus ridibundus

The adult black-headed gull is most recognisable in its summer plumage, when the dark chocolate-coloured hood (which looks black when

Black-throated diver
Gavia arctica

The black-throated diver is a large waterbird: larger than the great crested grebe but smaller than the cormorant in size.

Blue tit
Cyanistes caeruleus

Found in 98% of British gardens, the blue tit is identified by its colourful plumage. Blue tit’s wings, tail and

Bluebell
Hyacinthoides non-scripta

Bluebells spend most of the year as bulbs underground in ancient woodlands, only emerging to flower and leaf from April

Bogbean
Menyanthes trifoliata

Found mostly in the north of Scotland, the bogbean gets its name from its leaves which have a close resemblance

Bottlenose dolphin
Tursiops truncatus

The most familiar of the dolphins and the most likely to be seen from British shores, the bottlenose dolphin is

Brown hare
Lepus europaeus

Brown hares graze on vegetation and nibble bark from young trees and bushes. Hares shelter in a ‘form’, which is

Brown long-eared bat
Plecotus auritus

A medium-sized bat, the brown long-eared bat certainly lives up to its name! All British bats are nocturnal, feeding on

Brown trout
Salmo trutta

A medium to large fish, the brown trout lives in fast-flowing, stony and gravelly rivers. Brown trout are predatory fish,

Bullfinch
Pyrrhula pyrrhula

The bullfinch is a large, plump finch which feeds on buds and fruit in woodlands, hedgerows, parklands, gardens and orchards.

Canada goose
Branta canadensis canadensis

The Canada goose is a large goose with a distinctive black head and neck and a large white throat patch.

Capercaillie
Tetrao urogallus

The capercaillie is the largest member of the game bird family. It resides in the pinewoods of Scotland, but is

Cep
Boletus edulis

Also known as ‘penny bun bolete’, cep is an edible fungus which can be found growing in soil at the

Coal tit
Periparus ater

The coal tit is the smallest European tit, known for their lively and acrobatic nature and ability to hang upside

Collared dove
Streptopelia decaocto

Part of the pigeon and dove family, the collared dove can be distinguished from its close relatives as it is

Comma
Polygonia c-album

The comma is a medium-sized orange and brown spotted butterfly. It is on the wing throughout the year, having several

Common blue butterfly
Polyommatus icarus

The common blue is a small blue butterfly which flies throughout the summer between April and October. The most widespread

Common butterwort
Pinguicula vulgaris

The common butterwort, also known as bog violet or marsh violet, can be found in damp areas such as bogs,

Common Darter
Sympetrum striolatum

The common darter is a small, narrow-bodied dragonfly which is on the wing from the end of June right through

Common Frog
Rana temporaria

Common frogs are amphibians, coming to ponds to breed during the spring and spending much of the rest of the

Common Hawthorn
Crataegus monogyna

In May, our hedgerows burst into life as common hawthorn erupts with masses of creamy-white blossom, colouring the landscape and

Common Juniper
Juniperus communis

Common juniper is a sprawling, evergreen shrub that tends to grow in colonies on chalk downland, moorland, rocky slopes and

Common Lizard
Lacerta vivipara

Living further north than any other reptile species, the common lizard is also remarkable for giving birth to its young,

Common pipistrelle
Pipistrellus pipistrellus

The common pipistrelle is our smallest and most common bat. Pipistrelles have dark, golden-brown fur, a slightly paler underside and

Common poppy
Papaver rhoeas

Also referred to as the corn poppy, the common poppy is prevalent throughout farmland, fields, wasteland and roadsides mainly due

Common Scoter
Melanitta nigra

A squat, dark seaduck, the common scoter gathers in flocks of several hundred or even thousands in winter, mostly feeding

Common Toad
Bufo bufo

Toads are amphibians, breeding in ponds during the spring and spending much of the rest of the year feeding on

Common Tern
Sterna hirundo

The common tern is a medium-sized tern and the one you are most likely to see away from known breeding

Cormorant
Phalacrocorax carbo carbo

The cormorant is a large and conspicuous water bird that can live in either marine or  freshwater habitats. It has

Corncrake
Crex crex

The corncrake, also referred to as landrail, is an extremely secretive bird hiding and nesting in long grassland around the

Cross-leaved heath
Erica tetralix

Cross-leaved heath is a type of heather that gets its name from the distinctive whorls of four leaves that occur

Crossbill
Loxia curvirostra

The crossbill is a large finch of conifer woodlands; so-named for its bizarre cross-tipped bill, which it uses skilfully to

Cuckoo
Cuculus canorus

About the size of a collared dove, the cuckoo is a scarce summer visitor to most of Britain, arriving in

Curlew
Numenius arquata

Curlew are very large, tall waders, about the same size as a female pheasant. Curlew are mottled brown and grey

Dipper
Cinclus cinclus

The dipper is a short-tailed bird with a plump body shape. They are unmistakable, with a white throat and breast,

Dunlin
Calidris alpina alpina

The northern dunlin is a small, starling-sized wader, with a short neck and medium to long gently downward curved bill.

Eel
Anguilla anguilla

Eels are very long, narrow freshwater fish which can grow over a metre in length. Eels look smooth and lack

Eider
Somateria mollissima

The eider duck is characterised by its wedge-shaped bill and bulky shape. Males have a black and white plumage with

Elephant hawk-moth
Deilephila elpenor

Found throughout the UK in urban gardens, woodlands, sand dunes and countryside, the elephant hawk-moth is easily recognised by its

Fulmar
Fulmarus glacialis

The fulmar is a grey-white pelagic seabird, or nomad of the ocean, only coming ashore to rocky islands or desolate

Garden Tiger Moth
Arctia caja

This large, brightly coloured moth is on the wing towards the end of the summer during July and August. The

Globeflower
Trollius europaeus

Globeflowers prefers damp soil and provides a splash of colour in wet meadows, on riverbanks, in damp woodland and occassionally

Golden Eagle
Aquila chrysaetos

The golden eagle is the top predator in the Scottish countryside; it is a massive bird of prey that mainly

Golden plover
Pluvialis apricaria

The golden plover, also known as pluvialis apricaria, is a bird of many colours which change from summer to winter.

Goldfinch
Carduelis carduelis

The adult goldfinch is a small striking finch with a black and white head and an unmistakable red face. Their

Goosander
Mergus merganser

A handsome, streamlined duck, goosanders are larger than mallards and belong to the sawbill family. Female goosanders are grey, with

Grayling
Hipparchia semele

A medium-sized butterfly, graylings spend much of their time sunbathing on the ground, with their closed wings angled to catch

Great crested newt
Triturus cristatus

The great crested newt is the UK’s biggest species of newt. They are almost black in colour, with spotted flanks

Great spotted woodpecker
Dendrocopos major anglicus

The great spotted woodpecker is a striking black-and-white bird with a very distinctive bouncing flight. Adults have a deep red

Great tit
Parus major

The largest of the tit family, the great tit can be identified by their blue wings, yellow breast and yellow-green

Grey heron
Ardea cinerea

The grey heron is a big, strongly built heron. This species is one of the UK’s most recognisable birds. Their

Grey partridge
Perdix perdix

A plump, round gamebird the grey partridge is locally common but now thinly distributed and becoming scarce in most parts

Grey seal
Halichoerus grypus

A very large mammal, the grey seal spends most of its time out at sea where it feeds on fish.

Grey squirrel
Sciurus carolinensis

One of our most familiar mammals, the grey squirrel can be found in woods, gardens and parks, often proving to

Greylag goose
Anser anser

The greylag goose is the largest breed of wild goose native to the British Isles. They have large bulky bodies

Guillemot
Uria aalge

The guillemot is a seabird of the auk family that comes on land to breed in the summer. Most guillemots

Harbour seal
Phoca vitulina

The smaller of our two seal species, harbour seals (also known as common seals) are often found around sheltered shores

Heather
Calluna vulgaris

Heather is also known as ‘Ling’ and is an abundant plant on heathland, moors, bogs and even in woodland with

Hedgehog
Erinaceus europaeus

Small, round, brown and famously covered in spines, the hedgehog is one of the most familiar of Britain’s wild mammals.

Hen harrier
Circus cyaneus

The hen harrier is a bird of prey which was once famous for predating fowl, giving the species its name.

Honey buzzard
Pernis apivorus

The honey buzzard is a summer visitor to Scotland migrating from Africa for breeding season. They are birds of prey

Kestrel
Falco tinnunculus

The kestrel one of our best known bird of prey. Kestrels are a little smaller than a pigeon and can

Kingfisher
Alcedo atthis

A famously colourful bird of rivers and streams, the kingfisher can be spotted sitting quietly on low-hanging branches over the

Kittiwake
Rissa tridactyla

A slight, medium-sized, pelagic gull with a flight pattern that is more elegant (and more Tern-like) than other gulls. Kittiwakes

Knot
Calidris canutus

The knot is a medium-sized, plump wader that is longer and bulkier than sanderling or dunlin. Knots are usually seen

Lapwing
Vanellus vanellus

Familiar birds of farmlands and wetlands, lapwings can often be seen wheeling through winter skies in large, black and white

Linnet
Carduelis cannabina

The linnet is a common, small finch of heathland, scrub and farmland. Linnets feed on seeds and are present all

Long-tailed tit
Aegithalos caudatus

The long-tailed tit is a delightful small, rotund tit with a long narrow black tail with white edges. The wings

Lynx
Lynx lynx

Once resident in Scotland, the lynx is thought to have become extinct in the UK during the medieval period around

Marsh Fritillary
Euphydryas aurinia

Once widespread throughout Britain, the marsh fritillary has suffered dramatic decline, with a drop in numbers of 66% from 1990

Merlin
Falco columbarius

The merlin is the UK’s smallest bird of prey, but their small size does not make them any less intimidating

Mole
Talpa europaea

The mole spends most of its life below ground, and you are more likely to see their distinctive molehills than

Narrow Headed Ant
Formica exsecta

The narrow headed ant is a wood ant, which are the largest type of ant in Britain. They are red

Northern brown argus
Aricia artaxerxes

Northern brown argus butterflies occur in small colonies of less than fifty individuals and the females have only one brood

Nuthatch
Sitta europaea

The nuthatch is a rotund bird (about the size of a great tit) with distinctive blue-grey wings, head and tail.

Orca
Orcinus orca

Also known as the ‘Killer Whale’, the orca one of the top predators in the world’s oceans. The black and

Otter
Lutra lutra

The Eurasian otter is one of our top predators, feeding mainly on fish, waterbirds, amphibians and crustaceans. Otters can be

Oystercatcher
Haematopus ostralegus

A common wader, the oystercatcher is very noisy with a loud ‘peep-ing’ call. They are unmistakeabl, with : black and

Peregrine falcon
Falco peregrinus

The peregrine is our biggest falcon; dark slate-grey above and white below with black bars. It has a white throat

Pied wagtail
Motacilla alba yarrellii

A rather small, elegant slender bird with a long, narrow black and white tail which is constantly wagged up and

Pike
Esox lucius

The pike, or northern pike is one of the largest freshwater fish found in the UK. They can be spotted

Pine marten
Martes martes

Pine martens are elusive animals, found primarily in the north of Britain. Mostly chestnut-brown in colour, pine martens have a characteristic

Pink-footed goose
Anser brachyrhynchus

The pink-footed goose is one of our smaller geese, with a relatively short neck and a rounded head . They

Polecat
Mustela putorius

The polecat, one of the rarest mammals in the country, are members of the mustelid family of small carnivores and

Pond skater
Gerris lacustris

Found on ponds, marshes, streams and slow-moving waters, the pond skater is a small, thin black-brown insect. They have small

Puffin
Fratercula arctica

The puffin is a small auk, familiar as the ‘clowns’ of the coast with their brightly coloured bills, bumpy landings

Razorbill
Alca torda

Razorbill populations are migratory and lead a predominantly aquatic lifestyle, only coming on land to breed. Understanding the precise number

Red-breasted merganser
Mergus serrator

The red-breasted merganser is a slim long-bodied diving duck with bright red eyes and shaggy crest of feathers gives the

Red deer
Cervus elaphus

The red deer is Scotland’s largest deer. Males have large, branching antlers, increasing in size as they get older. These

Red kite
Milvus milvus

The red kite is a scavenger bird that was once very rare across the UK and even became extinct in

Red squirrel
Sciurus vulgaris

The red squirrel is most often found in coniferous woods. Scotland is home to over 75% of the UK’s red

Redshank
Tringa totanus

A common wading bird, both resident and migrant in Scotland, breeding throughout the country. The redshank is an elegant, medium-sized

Reed bunting
Emberiza schoeniclus

A sparrow-sized bird of reedbeds, wetlands and farmland, the reed bunting feeds on seeds and invertebrates. Reed buntings are streaky,

Ringed plover
Charadrius hiaticula

A small, robust and boldly marked wader found on open shores, preferring sandy or gravelly habitats. In summer, adults have

Roe deer
Capreolus capreolus

Roe deer have a bright, reddish brown coat and white rump, though their coat becomes a duller grey colour in

Round-leaved sundew
Drosera rotundifolia

The round-leaved sundew is a strange and beautiful plant that can be found sitting among the soggy sphagnum mosses at

Rowan
Sorbus aucuparia

Rowan is a small tree that can be recognised by its tooth-edged Ash-like leaves (15 leaflets arranged in pairs). It is

Scots pine
Pinus sylvestris

Scots pine is the native pine tree in Scotland and has been widely planted elsewhere in the UK, too. During

Scottish crossbill
Loxia scotica

The most striking feature of the Scottish crossbill is its crossed mandibles when its bill is closed. Males have russet

Scottish primrose
Primula scotica

The Scottish primrose is often found near the coast and is endemic to a small area in the very north

Sea campion
Silene maritima

If you happen to be near rocky places such as sea cliffs, shingle coastlines or even gravel paths during the

Sessile oak
Quercus petraea

Sessile oak is a tall tree that can mainly be found in semi-natural woodlands, especially in the north and west

Shelduck
Tadorna tadorna

The shelduck is a medium-sized goose-like duck with a dark green head and a bright red bill. They have a

Shore Crab
Carcinus maenas

Probably the commonest crab in Britain, the shore crab is a medium-sized crab which lives amongst rocks and seaweed from

Silver birch
Betula pendula

Silver birch is a familiar, small, spindly tree with thin branches and papery bark. It is found on heathland, moorland

Skylark
Alauda arvensis

If seen singing, the skylark is unmistakeable. A streaky brown bird with a crest, the skylark is larger, with a

Small blue
Cupido minimus

The small blue is aptly named as it is our smallest native British butterfly. The wings are brown, fringed with

Small cow-wheat
Melampyrum sylvaticum

Small cow-wheat is a flowering plant that prefers to grow in light shade and high humidity. It can be found

Small heath
Coenonympha pamphilus

The small heath is a small, inconspicuous butterfly of heathland, moorland, grassland and coastal habitats.It is a small, fairly shy,

Small tortoiseshell
Aglais urticae

The small tortoiseshell is one of our most familiar butterflies, often appearing in our cities and gardens. It is a

Snipe
Gallinago gallinago

A medium-sized wader, the snipe lives in marshes, wet grassland and moorlands. Snipe are brown with an intricate pattern of

Song thrush
Turdus philomelos

The song thrush is a small songbird, commonly found in parks and gardens, woodland and scrub. It is a familiar

Sparrowhawk
Accipiter nisus

The sparrowhawk is abundant throughout Scotland, but they possess a speed and stealth that makes them difficult to spot. As

Sphagnum moss
Sphagnum

Sphagnum mosses are the amazingly multi-coloured living carpets of moss found in wet places like peat bogs, marshland, heath and

Spotted flycatcher
Muscicapa striata

Spotted flycatchers are medium-sized songbirds of open woodland, parks and gardens. A streaky, greyish-brown bird, the spotted flycatcher is pale

Starling
Sturnus vulgaris

A familiar bird that breeds in farmland, suburban areas and open woodlands. Seen from a distance, starlings look black with

Stoat
Mustela erminea

The stoat is a small, carnivorous member of the mustelid family, similar in appearance to large weasels. They have long,

Swallow
Hirundo rustica

The swallow is a common summer visitor, arriving in April and leaving in October. They are glossy, dark blue-black above,

Thrift
Armeria maritima

Thrift plants, also known as sea pink, can reach a height of 0.3 metres and can be found along coastal

Tree sparrow
Passer montanus

Tree sparrows are scarce birds of farmland, hedgerows and woodland edges and are not associated with man in the way

Twinflower
Linnaea Borealis

Although mostly found in North East Scotland, the twinflower population has become critically scarce. In an attempt to bring the

Water Vole
Arvicola amphibius

Whilst it may resemble a rat (even being dubbed the “water rat” or “ratty”), the water vole has fur on

Wigeon
Anas penelope

A stocky, short-necked duck with a round head and pointed tail. The wigeon has a small grey bill with a

Wild boar
Sus scrofa

Wild boar are part of the pig family. They probably became extinct in the UK around the 13th Century due

Wildcat
Felis silvestris

One of our rarest and most endangered mammals, and the only wild member of the cat family in the UK.

Willow warbler
Phylloscopus trochilus

Willow warblers are slim, delicate birds of woodland, scrub, parks and gardens. They are green above and pale yellow below,

Wood anemone
Anemone nemorosa

The wood anemone is a pretty spring flower of ancient woodlands, and is also planted in graveyards, parks and gardens.

Wood warbler
Phylloscopus sibilatrix

The wood warbler is a small bird of oak woodland found in the north and west of the UK, particularly

Wren
Troglodytes troglodytes

The diminutive wren can be found in almost any habitat. A tiny, unmistakeable brown bird with a short, cocked tail

Yellowhammer
Emberiza citrinella

The yellowhammer is a sparrow-sized, bright-yellow bird of woodland edges, hedgerows, heath and farmland that feeds on seeds and invertebrates.

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