Best time to see wildlife in Scotland including red squirrels, red deer and seals

Red deer stag in Scotland

Scotland’s landscapes are home to an incredible array of wildlife – and there is no better time to see some of the country’s most famous creatures than autumn and winter.

With direct flights available from Dubai to Glasgow, it’s the best time to bask in glorious autumnal colours, go animal-spotting, and experience all that nature has to offer.

Just remember to wrap up warm, as temperatures can be on the cooler side and often plunge well below zero in winter – with many areas seeing a thick coating of snow towards the end of the year.

When to see red squirrels in Scotland

The UK has around 160,000 red squirrels, and approximately 75% of them live in Scotland’s woodlands, parks and gardens.

Red squirrels are best spotted in the winter months of December-January, with their vibrant reddish coats standing out against the snow.

Where to see red squirrels in Scotland

To find these beautiful little mammals, visitors can keep an eye out for their red coat during a walk in Britain’s largest forest park, Galloway Forest Park.

Sightings are also common along the Devilla Forest Red Squirrel Trail, as the Scots Pine trees are a perfect habitat for red squirrels.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust is working with NatureScot, Scottish Forestry, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates and the Red Squirrel Survival Trust to protect these adorable creatures by asking people to report sightings.

When to see red deer in Scotland

One of the most iconic animals associated with Scotland, the red deer is the UK’s largest land mammal and can be spotted in almost every region in the country.

Red deer are best spotted during the autumn months of September-November

Where to see red deer in Scotland

These stunning animals can be seen in locations including the Isle of Arran, Isle of Jura, Lochaber, Torridon, Cairngorms National Park, and Queen Elizabeth Forest Park.

Visitors can stop by Aberfeldy in Perthshire and visit the Red Deer Centre to get up close and personal with these large mammals and learn about their unique traits.

Additionally, the Cairngorms National Park is home to Britain’s only free-ranging herd of reindeer.

When to see seals in Scotland

Seals are very common inhabitants off the coastlines of Scotland. Visitors might be lucky enough to spot fluffy grey seal pups too.

Seals are best spotted during the autumn months of September-November but can also be spotted during the summer.

Where to see seals in Scotland

These adorable creatures can be spotted all across Scotland, but in particular in the Moray Firth, Firth of Tay, Ythan Estuary, and on the Isle of May.

Basking Shark Scotland runs Seal and Lagoon tours throughout the year from Oban, Tobermory, or Isle of Mull, where visitors can swim in crystal clear water alongside seals.

Basking Shark Scotland also runs various other tours to allow visitors the chance to enjoy the special wildlife in Scotland, including – naturally – basking shark tours, snorkelling experiences, scuba diving trips, and more.