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I know there are a limited number of wildcats still roaming free in Scotland but is it ever very realistic to see one? and are there any places that are particularly good to spot them? I also know that hybrids with domestic cats are pretty common - are they easy to distinguish?

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It is realistic to see them, but not at all easy.

The range of the Scottish Wildcat has reduced over the years such that they are only found in a few areas. They live almost exclusively in the Highlands north of the Cairngorms, although they are not found at higher altitudes. They stick to woodland.
You stand most chance of seeing one in the National Parks.

The Wildcat is mostly crepuscular or nocturnal, which also makes them difficult to see.

As to distinguishing them from domestic cats, although the body of a wildcat looks similar to a small domestic tabby, the wildcat has a banded tail with a black tip. This tail is distinctive.

One of the best sources of information is the Wildcat Haven

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    Our local wild life park has some, but they're even hard to see in a cage.
    – PMF
    May 4 at 11:06
  • @PMF I would be hard to see in a cage too.
    – ab2
    May 4 at 19:26
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    I'm pretty sure even an experienced guide who knows a wildcat's territory needs to be very lucky to actually encounter a wildcat in the wild. AFAIK, observation is usually done with camera traps.
    – Roland
    May 5 at 6:44
  • If they're like most other wildcats in the world, they're probably very skittish around people, so even if you happen to be near one, it's likely to be hiding from you. May 5 at 13:50

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