UK Safari

Create your own UK Safari

Discover where to spot dolphins, sharks, whales, puffins and more with our handy guide

UK Safari

Scotland / Shetland Islands

When it comes to Scottish animals you probably imagine majestic deer alongside traditional countryside animals like badgers, foxes and moles. But did you know you can also spot a whole host of rarer wildlife including killer whales? Our survey shows that only 1% of people have seen a killer whale in the UK so it isn’t a surprise if you didn’t know. Take a look at the other exciting Scottish creatures you can spy in the section below.

  • Killer whale (Orcinus orca)

    Also known as an orca killer whales belongs to the dolphin family. They are known for their distinctive black and white markings, and are very fast swimmers; reaching speeds of 54kph.

    Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

    These whales can reach lengths of 16 metres and weigh up to 40 tones. Travelling around the oceans in pods they are known for their mesmerising songs which they use to communicate.

    Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

    This type of dolphin is the most common member of the oceanic dolphin family. They can live to be 50 years old and are understood to be intelligent. They communicate with clicks and whistles.

    Long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas)

    Despite being called whales these mammals are in fact members of the dolphin family. They have gained their name from having unusually long pectoral fins and they are very sociable animals.

    Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

    This is the second smallest baleen whale but they can still weigh up to 10 tones. Although present in the southern hemisphere, those in the northern hemisphere have a white band on each flipper.

  • Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis)

    This is the most rare reptile in the UK due to substantial loss of its habitat. They hibernate over the winter from November to March, after which they like to bask in the sun and feed on fruit and bugs.

    Puffin (Fratercula arctica)

    This photogenic bird has distinctive colourful beaks. Puffins live off of fish and catch them by diving into the sea. They can be found nesting in cracks in the rocks along the coast or on islands.

    Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

    This well known bird of prey has a wingspan up 220cm, it’s one of the biggest in the UK. The Golden Eagle lives off of other bird and mammals and can be spotted gliding through the sky on air currents.

    Wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus)

    This mammal belongs to the same family as the kangaroo. They can grow to be two meters long with strong hind legs for both jumping and fighting. Their long tail is largely used for balance.

    Scottish wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia)

    The Scottish wildcat is also known as the Highlands tiger. Native to Scotland this mammal looks very much like a tabby cat but it’s a ferocious hunter. They are most active at dawn and dusk.

    Mountain hare (Lepus timidus)

    The mountain hare changes colours to aid with camouflage; it’s a grey-brown in the summer and white in the winter. They hide in shallow holes in the ground but can be spotted bounding across moorland.

UK Safari

Northern England

Have you ever seen a Coati? Seeing how only 7% of Brits even know you can see them in the UK we’re guessing it’s probably a no. If you live up north or are taking a trip there you’ve got to try your hand as some wildlife spotting – there are lots of surprising creatures to spy.

  • Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)

    The harbour porpoise is one of the smallest mammals in the sea. As its name suggests it can often be found close to land and has been known to travel up rivers, which makes it easier to spot.

    Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

    This type of dolphin is the most common member of the oceanic dolphin family. They can live to be 50 years old and are understood to be intelligent. They communicate with clicks and whistles.

    Long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas)

    Despite being called whales these mammals are in fact members of the dolphin family. They have gained their name from having unusually long pectoral fins and they are very sociable animals.

    White-beaked dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris)

    This dolphin can be found further north than any other members of the same species. Contradictory to its name it may have a grey or black beak and they can often be found in pods of 5-50.

    Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

    This is the second smallest baleen whale but they can still weigh up to 10 tones. Although present in the southern hemisphere, those in the northern hemisphere have a white band on each flipper.

  • Puffin (Fratercula arctica)

    This photogenic bird has distinctive colourful beaks. Puffins live off of fish and catch them by diving into the sea. They can be found nesting in cracks in the rocks along the coast or on islands.

    Otter (Lutra lutra)

    Otters live between land and water; they can close their ears and nose when they are underwater and are brilliant swimmers. Otters are also known for being both intelligent and playful.

    Coati (Nasua nasua)

    The Coati is a member of the racoon family. They have a distinctive ringed tail and only grow to 69cm long. They are active in both day and night and where possible prefer to sleep in high places.

UK Safari
UK Safari
UK Safari

Wales & Midlands

Wallabies only live in Australia don’t they mate? Nope! But only 17% of people know you can see these furry marsupials without leaving the UK so don’t feel bad if you didn’t know. You can also see puffins, dolphins and feral goats in Wales  – no wonder that two thirds of Brits were shocked by the wildlife you can find in the UK when we surveyed them.

  • Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)

    The harbour porpoise is one of the smallest mammals in the sea. As its name suggests it can often be found close to land and has been known to travel up rivers, which makes it easier to spot.

    Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

    This type of dolphin is the most common member of the oceanic dolphin family. They can live to be 50 years old and are understood to be intelligent. They communicate with clicks and whistles.

  • Puffin (Fratercula arctica)

    This photogenic bird has distinctive colourful beaks. Puffins live off of fish and catch them by diving into the sea. They can be found nesting in cracks in the rocks along the coast or on islands.

    Feral goat (Capra hircus)

    The feral goat is very similar to the domesticated goat except it has established itself in the wild. They have been in the UK for over 5000 year and they can now be found in the Welsh mountains.

    Wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus)

    This mammal belongs to the same family as the kangaroo. They can grow to be two meters long with strong hind legs for both jumping and fighting. Their long tail is largely used for balance.

    Mountain hare (Lepus timidus)

    The mountain hare changes colours to aid with camouflage; it’s a grey-brown in the summer and white in the winter. They hide in shallow holes in the ground but can be spotted bounding across moorland.

UK Safari

Southern England

You could be forgiven for thinking that the least wild part of the UK is the south; no wonder that 77% of people didn’t know that you can see a humpback whale off the south coast and only 15% knew that you can see a hoopoe bird! In fact you can see over 100 birds a year in the UK – get your binoculars ready!

  • Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

    These whales can reach lengths of 16 metres and weigh up to 40 tones. Travelling around the oceans in pods they are known for their mesmerising songs which they use to communicate.

    Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

    This type of dolphin is the most common member of the oceanic dolphin family. They can live to be 50 years old and are understood to be intelligent. They communicate with clicks and whistles.

  • Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis)

    This is the most rare reptile in the UK due to substantial loss of its habitat. They hibernate over the winter from November to March, after which they like to bask in the sun and feed on fruit and bugs.

    Hoopoe bird (Upupa epops)

    The Hoopoe bird is rare in the UK and has a colourful, distinctive appearance. Their crest is particularly unusual and raises when they are excited. This bird eats insects, worms and small reptiles.

    Otter (Lutra lutra)

    Otters live between land and water; they can close their ears and nose when they are underwater and are brilliant swimmers. Otters are also known for being both intelligent and playful.

    Wild Boar (Sus scrofa)

    Wild boar, also called swine, are a relative of the pig. They are bristly haired and tend to live in forests or shrubland and wallow in mud. They also have four tusks which are mainly used for fighting.

    Wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus)

    This mammal belongs to the same family as the kangaroo. They can grow to be two meters long with strong hind legs for both jumping and fighting. Their long tail is largely used for balance.

UK Safari
UK Safari
UK Safari

Northern Ireland

With its world famous coastline it perhaps isn’t a surprise to learn that the sea off Northern Ireland is teeming with sea-life but some of it may surprise you. For example, are you one of the 78% of people that didn’t know you can see killer whales in our waters?

  • Killer whale (Orcinus orca)

    Also known as an orca killer whales belongs to the dolphin family. They are known for their distinctive black and white markings, and are very fast swimmers; reaching speeds of 54kph.

    Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis)

    These dolphins can dive to 280m and swim up to 60kmph. They are social animals; common dolphins are usually found in pods that could be up to hundreds or thousands strong.

    Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

    These whales can reach lengths of 16 metres and weigh up to 40 tones. Travelling around the oceans in pods they are known for their mesmerising songs which they use to communicate.

    Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)

    The harbour porpoise is one of the smallest mammals in the sea. As its name suggests it can often be found close to land and has been known to travel up rivers, which makes it easier to spot.

UK Safari
UK Safari

How to spot these rare marine animals

Our partners at the Marine Conservation Society have put together these tips on how to see some of the ocean’s most majestic animals off the shores of the UK.

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Enormous size, knobbly head, long fins, with a subtle but distinctive hump near the dorsal fin make it unmistakeable. The population of humpback whales in the Atlantic may be beginning to recover from whaling many years ago.

Where to spot: At sea, to the west of the UK and Ireland, especially during spring and autumn migrations.

Orca (Orcinus orca)

Mostly black, with white markings when seen from surface – mostly white below. Adult male has very tall dorsal fin. Individuals often congregate in pods, caring diligently for new calves.

Where to spot: Unusual but regular visitor, particularly to northern seas, but have even been spotted off Cornwall.

Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

A lively grey dolphin found around the world, some of the largest specimens are found around the UK. Lively, acrobatic, intelligent. Eats fish, crustaceans and squid.

Where to spot: The Moray Firth, to the North East of Scotland, and Cardigan Bay, West Wales are great places to see them. They can pop up anywhere around UK coasts.

Practical tips

You can look for whales and dolphins from land, especially from high up on prominent headlands (like Flamborough in Yorkshire, Cape Cornwall, Lleyn Peninsula) and islands (Ramsey in Pembrokeshire, many sites in the Hebrides). By far the best chance of finding them is on a boat, heading a little offshore. Dolphins like areas with currents and where sea depth varies, as these tend to be rich in plankton and fish. Calm water will give the best views when they break the surface.

How to spot these rare land animals

Here are the top three land animals out of 20 rare UK animals that Brits would most like to see and how you can see them.

Golden eagle

You will need to keep your eyes on the skies to spot a golden eagle as only 13% of people surveyed have seen a golden eagle in the UK. They can often be spotted gliding on air currents, but make sure you have binoculars to hand to help you tell this bird apart from other birds of prey.

Red squirrel

Thanks to conservation efforts it’s getting easier to spot red squirrels in some parts of the UK. Your best chance of seeing them in in the autumn when they are busy collecting food but there are less leaves on the trees.

Wallaby

It is possible to see wallabies, and not just at the zoo. There is an island in Loch Lomond, Scotland called Inchconnachan which has a mob of wallabies. To get there you will need to hire a speedboat or kayak.

UK Safari

Safari map of the United Kingdom

UK Safari
UK Safari

Now see them for yourself

Richard Harrington, Head of Communications at our partner, the Marine Conservation Society, said: “UK wildlife is captivating and fascinating, and rivals anything you can find in other parts of the world. It is really worth planning your holidays to coincide with opportunities to see animals in their natural habitat. For example the humpback whale, though rare, can be found to the west of the UK in spring and autumn. Bottlenose dolphins can be found year round – you just need to be in the know about where to go!”

He went on to add that “your best bet to spot any marine life is from a boat, but they can be spotted from high above too. Prominent headlands like Flamborough on the Yorkshire coast, Cape Cornwall and Lleyn Peninsula as well as islands such as Ramsey in Pembrokeshire are a great way to see dolphins and wales from dry land.”

Now you know how many amazing animals can be seen in the United Kingdom we’re sure you’ll want to go and see them for yourself. Snaptrip partners with the largest professional cottage providers in the UK so that we can offer over 60,000 properties in one place and you don’t have to search each website individually. With our best price guarantee, last minute discounts and member-only discounts, we truly have a cottage for every budget.

 

UK Safari