Wildlife, flora and fauna in Scotland

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Year of Natural Scotland 2013
Year of Natural Scotland 2013

Celebrate Scotland's natural beauty throughout 2013

  • Looking out over a flock of birds at the Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve
    A flock of birds at the Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve
  • North Ronaldsay sheep feast on seaweed
    The North Ronaldsay sheep in Orkney live on a diet entirely made up of seaweed

Scotland's dramatic landscape, islands and coastal areas are home to a vast array of wildlife, flora and fauna, so come and observe these fascinating animals in their natural habitat.


From seabird colonies to marine mammals and endangered species, there are plenty opportunities to discover the wildlife that calls Scotland home, including at over 40 National Nature Reserves.

While you're out enjoying the stunning Scottish landscapes you stand a good chance of spotting a variety of beautiful wildlife, including the five wild animals that Scotland is famous for; the red squirrel, red deer, harbour seal, otter and the golden eagle. Make sure that you vote for your favourite of Scotland's Big 5 animals.

Search the skies and coastline and you'll find a plethora of bird life, including puffins in Orkney, red kites in Dumfries & Galloway and Ospreys and Kingfishers at the Montrose Basin Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in Angus. 

Scotland's smaller creatures also make for a fascinating day out - whether you want to search for butterflies in the south west, spend a family day out pond dipping at a nature event with the National Trust for Scotland, or meet both indigenous and tropical creepy crawlies at the Butterfly and Insect World in Edinburgh.

Rare flowers, machair and woodland

Shetland has a significant number of indigenous plants which have adapted to the island's unique habitat and serpentine rock conditions. The most northerly island of Unst includes the world's only example of Edmonston's chickweed (mouse-ear).

Discover dense forests and ancient woodland across Perthshire, affectionately known as 'Big Tree Country'. At the Hermitage near Dunkeld, look out for one of Britain's largest trees, a towering Douglas Fir which reaches 212 ft.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a fantastic place to see unique and exotic collection of flora from around the world. There are three other Royal Botanic Garden sites spread throughout Scotland in the mountainous Benmore, the wooded hills of Dawyck and Logan on the warm Gulf Stream peninsular in Dumfries & Galloway. Together, the gardens house one of the world's largest living collections of plants.

Find our more information about the many luscious parks and gardens found throughout Scotland.

Practical guide

Discover where and when to see Scotland's wildlife at its best.