Reid the springer spaniel looks directly at the camera. BEhind him is the Fetlar ferry, which goes to Shetland.
Reid wears his working harness as the sun rises on Fetlar, a remote island that is two ferry hops from Shetland.

Hear about the vital contribution to conservation made by Reid, a talented English springer spaniel who works as a rodent detection dog in the Scottish islands. It’s a varied role, searching islands, cargo and passenger ferries, and there’s even an educational component in spreading the word about biosecurity.

Conservationist and detection dog handler Rachel Cripps talks about Reid’s work, visiting 38 Scottish islands during the course of the year in all weathers, searching for evidence of rat incursions. 

Reid the springer spaniel, wearing an orange lifejacket with the words "biosecurity for Scotland" sits in an inflatable boat looking at the harbour beyond. His mouth is open and he looks relaxed.
With 38 islands on his patch, it’s important that Reid is comfortable riding on small RIB boats as well as ferries.

Thanks to Sophie at RSPB for introducing Reid and Rachel to the show.  Biosecurity for Scotland is funded by NRF, and is a partnership of RSPB Scotland, NTS and NatureScot.

Reid with his handler, Rachel Cripps, in front of a location map that says "Isle of May" above it
Reid and Rachel have visited the Isle of May looking for evidence of rats

What is biosecurity?

Biosecurity is the practice of protecting places from the threats to wildlife posed by
introducing new diseases or types of plants or animals that do not naturally occur there.

These Scottish islands are remote and home to many globally important colonies of seabirds. Native seabirds have not evolved alongside predators, and are therefore vulnerable to invasive predators such as rats, which eat the eggs, chicks and sometimes adult birds. For example

  • Invasive non-native mammalian predators are responsible for 58% of bird, mammal and reptile extinctions globally;
  • Manx Shearwaters have been lost from 12 Scottish islands;
  • The latest seabird census showed that almost half of seabird species breeding in the UK have declined in the last 20 years.

Other conservation detection dog episodes:

Molly and co survey Scotland’s Isle of May for storm petrels;

Barley the