Mammals

Scotland’s land mammals come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the species at our places can be found in abundance, while others are so endangered that only a few still remain.

Red deer

You’re sure to recognise the majestic red deer stag, the largest wild land mammal in Scotland. For a good chance of seeing one, head to Highland properties such as Torridon, Kintail, Glencoe National Nature Reserve or Mar Lodge Estate National Nature Reserve.

Red deer no longer have any natural predators in Scotland, and so there is a large population. They graze on grasses, sedges and shrubs all the way up to the mountain tops. During rutting season, when the stags fight over females, you can hear the unforgettable bellow of these incredible animals echo across the glens.

A young red deer stag with its antlers still in velvet
A young red deer stag with its antlers still in velvet

Red squirrels

The red squirrel is the only squirrel species native to the UK, and they love our woodlands. They’re fantastic foragers, able to find food buried deep beneath the snow; they can even tell if a nut is rotten without opening it. To catch sight of one, you’re best off heading for the Highlands again, to Arran, Mar Lodge Estate or Killiecrankie. But you can still spot a few at lowland properties like Rockcliffe, Threave Estate, Culzean and Hill of Tarvit, too.

Red squirrels have had a rough ride ever since the arrival of their North American cousins at the turn of the 20th century. When grey squirrels arrived on our shores, they were bigger and more capable than the reds, and they brought a new disease with them: the deadly squirrel pox. This led to red squirrels almost being wiped out from England and Wales, so we’ve had to work hard to safeguard their future, putting extra effort into reintroducing red squirrels at places like Balmacara and Inverewe.

An alert red squirrel perched on a tree branch
An alert red squirrel perched on a tree branch

Wildcats

The Scottish wildcat is one of the UK’s rarest mammals and is very elusive. Wildcat territory is now restricted to the Highlands, and we still don’t have an accurate figure for the number of ‘pure’ Scottish wildcats remaining in the wild. They used to be threatened by severe persecution and deforestation, but the latest problem has been an influx of feral cats, which inter-breed with them and risk the extinction of the ‘pure wildcat’.

There could be as few as 40 left in the wild, so our conservation experts have been assisting with the Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Plan by surveying for wildcats. If you’re lucky enough to see a wildcat, please make sure you report it on the Scottish Wildcat Action website

A Scottish wildcat hiding in the grass
A Scottish wildcat hiding in the grass

Bats

Whatever you think of bats, they’re surely one of nature’s most fascinating mammals. Over the centuries they’ve evolved to use sonar to see their surroundings, and they use complex social systems, not to mention the fact that they’ve learned how to fly!

We support 9 different bat species across close to 100 of our places. At Threave Estate you can visit Scotland’s first bat reserve – a home for some of the rarest and most beautiful bat species, and a great place for visitors to try and spot bats in their natural habitat. We’ve got roosts at Haddo House and Hill of Tarvit too, and our very own Bat Conservation Action Plan helps us manage bats and their habitats during our day-to-day work.

A pipistrelle bat at Threave Bat Reserve
A pipistrelle bat at Threave Bat Reserve

Other mammals at Trust places

  • Wild goats at Kintail, Burg and Grey Mare’s Tail
  • Soay sheep on St Kilda (the earliest domestic sheep, dating back to the Iron Age)
  • Pine martens at Leith Hall, Mar Lodge Estate and Glencoe 
  • Otters at Inverewe, Iona and Balmacara
  • Badgers at Threave Estate
  • Water voles at many sites around the Cairngorms, including Mar Lodge Estate and Crathes Castle Estate
  • The St Kilda field mouse (a unique subspecies native to the archipelago)