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Land mammals

Many of our mammals are protected and Scottish Natural Heritage helps to monitor their populations.

Although we lost the wolf, bear, elk and lynx to hunting long ago, Scotland still has a wealth of land mammals.

Today, our majestic red deer is our largest wild land mammal and is widely distributed throughout Scotland. Our other native deer, the striking and delicate roe, is found across mainland Scotland.

The Eurasian beaver was extinct from here for 400 years, but this semi-aquatic rodent once again inhabits our riparian broadleaved woodland, having been re-introduced to Scotland.

Though seldom seen by us, the badger – Britain’s biggest carnivore – is still found across Scotland, often in surprising numbers.

Scotland is home to about 8,000 otters, making it a European stronghold for this semi-aquatic species, which lives from the coast to areas further inland.

The beautiful pine marten, a member of the weasel family, is expanding from its Highland stronghold. There are now around 3,700 adults in Scotland.

Of the 10 bat species that live here, the most widespread and familiar are the common and soprano pipistrelle bats.

Scotland also has millions of rabbits and two species of hare, but of these three only the mountain hare is native.

Our most threatened mammals

Very few people have seen our wildcat – it’s Scotland’s most threatened mammal, with perhaps only a few hundred still alive.

Britain has just 120,000 or so red squirrels, about 75% of which live in Scotland’s coniferous and broadleaved woodlands. Squirrelpox and competition from grey squirrels are the greatest threats to this native species.

Water voles are the largest of Britain’s voles, but this once abundant riverbank mammal is under threat from the American mink, an introduced predator that’s badly affected Scotland’s native biodiversity.