The Long Lost Creatures of Scotland

Blog 29 Apr 2013

After writing about the beautiful wildlife we have in Scotland today, such as puffins, red deer and even bottle-nosed dolphins, I thought this week would be a fantastic opportunity to write about the animals Scotland has slowly lost over the ages.

Scotland has a formidable history of animal extinctions, and unfortunately now only a fraction of Scotland's native forests remain. Many animals have ceased to be due to overhunting, loss of habitat or competition with humans. Here is a small list of some of the creatures that no longer roam the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland.

The long lost Creatures...


After the brown bear and the wolf, the lynx is the third largest predator in Europe. It usually feeds on larger animals, such as deer, sheep and moose. The Eurasian Lynx can be found all over Europe, Northern Asia and the Middle East. The lynx's distinctive tufts on its triangular ears are believed to act like whiskers, allowing the cat to sense their surroundings.

It is thought the lynx became extinct in Scotland in medieval times, likely due to loss of habitat and over-hunting.

Brown Bear

It's hard to believe bears used to frequent the Scottish Highlands, but it was certainly a common sight over 1500 years ago. These omnivorous giants do tend to be solitary animals, except for females and their cubs.  It is believed the bear became extinct due to excessive hunting around 500AD. 

Did you know...?

Despite being enormous creatures, brown bears are incredibly fast and have been recorded at speeds of around 30 miles an hour!

Woolly Mammoth

Woolly Mammoths became extinct over 10,000 years ago, but at one time they roamed the Highlands. They were adaptable to cold, perfect for Scottish winters. It seems unlikely they died out due to climate change. It is more likely the woolly mammoths were wiped out due to disease, or due to the intervention of humans. Some woolly mammoths had 15 foot long tusks, but tiny ears, unlike their tropical descendant, the elephant.

Did you know...?

People existed when these woolly creatures roamed the Earth. They feature heavily in ancient art works and drawings and were hunted for their pelts as well as their meat.


Wolves are the largest members of the wild dog family. They are highly social animals, and have developed complex forms of communication, such as body language and facial expressions. Wolves usually prey on larger animals, such as deer, and are highly territorial.

Did you know...?

Some may think wolves would make good guard dogs, however they would be quite the opposite. Wolves are afraid of the unfamiliar and will flee or hide from unwelcome visitors, rather than bark at them.

Are there any plans to reintroduce these animals to Scotland?

Excluding the woolly mammoth, some attempts at reintroducing, or rewilding, these extinct animals are being made. Scottish Natural Heritage successfully reintroduced the European Beaver to the Scottish countryside. Wild boar can also be seen in the Dundreggan Estate of Glenmoriston. There are also plans to reintroduce other animals, such as wolves, in order to reduce the population of wild deer.