A Guide to Arran Wildlife

As an island, Arran is as rich and diverse as they come. Home to spectacular heritage sites, world class scenery and endless activities, it is an island that will leave no visitor to want for nothing. For wildlife enthusiasts, a visit to Arran holds the promise of spotting Scotland’s “big five.” 

Heading on a trip to the island to spot some Arran wildlife? Keep right with our handy guide!

red squirrel

Red Squirrels

Once a common sight to see, over the course of several decades, spotting a characteristic red squirrel has become a rarity. 

In the 1870s, the non-native grey squirrel numbers was introduced into the British population due to fashionable demand. However, the introduction of a new species had a catastrophic effect on the population of red squirrels: grey squirrels were stronger and aplenty, dominating the habitat and forcing red squirrels out. 

Furthermore, grey squirrels also brought a fatal virus - harmless to the grey, but deadly to the red called Squirrelpox. 

The result: the population rapidly dwindled from the millions to the staggering statistic of approximately 120,000 today.

Despite the decline in population, visitors hoping to spot a red squirrel are in with a good chance, as the Isle of Arran is home to many. Sightings of red squirrels have been reported across all wooded areas of Arran, however, particular areas of interest where sightings are most likely include the Brodick Castle Woods, North Sannox Wood or Glenashdale Forest. 

Seal

Seals

Another common sight on the Isle of Arran is that of both common and grey seals. Found sunning themselves along the coastline of the island, your best chance to spot them is during a low tide, around the areas of King’s Cave, Newton Shore, Kildonan shore as well as Lochranza. 

Lochranza is also known as the “Loch of the Seals” - so be sure to keep an eye out on your next trip to the distillery! 

Seal pups can be spotted during both the late spring and autumn, however, it is essential visitors do not get too close or touch the pups, even if they are alone. If they do so, then the scent left behind may cause the mother seal to reject the pup! 

otter

Otters

Another coastal creature to watch out for on your next Arran trip is the Eurasian otter. 

Whilst spotting an otter is a relative rarity across the UK, the Isle of Arran is home to quite a significant number, making it a must-visit destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

To increase your chances of spotting an otter on your trip, head to the south coast between Lagg and Kildonan, or King’s Cave. Improve your chances further, it is recommended to head out at dawn or dusk - when otters are most likely to be out and about.

If you’re lucky enough to happen upon an otter, be sure to keep very still and silent - whilst otters are becoming more and more used to a human presence, they are still easily spooked and you could ruin your chance to see these playful creatures in their home habitat.

red deer

Red Deer

Perhaps the animal most synonymous with Scotland (asides from the Haggis), red deer are a must-see for any wildlife enthusiast visiting Arran. As the largest land mammal in the UK, a fully grown red stag is a majestic sight to behold! 

Red deer are typically found in woodland habitats across the UK, however it is not unusual to spot them on hilly land and the moors. You can spot deer in abundance across Arran - and they often congregate very near to our distillery in Lochranza. 

If you’re extremely lucky during your trip to Arran, you may even see the legendary White Stag, which lends his name to our whisky community! 

Golden Eagles

Golden Eagles

Golden eagles are magnificent birds of prey. Preferring to reside in mountainous and treeless terrain, the Isle of Arran is the perfect nesting ground. 

The environment is so perfect, in fact, that golden eagles were responsible for a delay in the building of our Lochranza distillery. During the construction of the distillery, a pair of eagles created a nest on a cliff nearby to the building site, and as a protected species, construction was temporarily halted to give the birds the best chance to raise their young. 

Today, many visitors to the distillery get to witness the golden eagles swooping on by during their tour!

Arran Wildlife and the Distillery

Visitors to our Lochranza distillery will have the chance to tick three out of the “big five” Arran wildlife! Much like the Arran community, the local environment and wildlife have a huge influence on the operations of the distillery, and our Arran Whisky products. 

As an island, we’re incredibly lucky to be privileged in having some of the rarest and most beautiful wildlife that Scotland has to offer. As such, just like our whisky, it’s our responsibility to take care of it for the generations to come. 

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