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Pyinaturalist is an iNaturalist API client for python.


iNaturalist is a rich source of biodiversity data, and offers an extensive API to interact with nearly every aspect of its platform.

If you want to make use of these data within a python application, script, or notebook, then pyinaturalist can help. It adds a number of python-specific conveniences, including:

  • Requests: Simplified usage with python types and data structures

  • Responses: Type conversions to things you would expect in python (for example, timestamps to timezone-aware datetime objects)

  • Server-Friendly Usage: Client-side rate-limiting that follows the API Recommended Practices

  • Typing: Complete parameter definitions with type annotations, which significantly enhances usability within an IDE, Jupyter notebook, or any other environment with type checking & autocompletion

  • Messages: Improved error handling, which means less time spent figuring out why an API call failed

  • Docs: Thorough documentation with example requests and responses

  • Security: Keyring integration for secure credential storage

  • Testing: A dry-run mode to preview your requests before potentially modifying data

Many of the most relevant API endpoints are included:

  • Searching for:

    • controlled terms

    • identifications

    • observations

    • observation fields

    • observation species counts

    • places

    • projects

    • species

  • Text search autocompletion for:

    • places

    • species

  • Creating and updating:

    • observations

    • observation fields

    • observation photos

See Endpoints for a complete list of endpoints wrapped by pyinaturalist, see General Usage for features common to all or most endpoints, and see Reference to skip straight to the API docs.


Install the latest stable version with pip:

$ pip install pyinaturalist

Or, if you would like to use the latest development (pre-release) version:

$ pip install --pre pyinaturalist

To install with minimal dependencies (which disables some optional features):

$ pip install --no-deps pyinaturalist
$ pip install python-dateutil requests

See Contributing for details on setup for local development.

Development Status

Pyinaturalist is under active development. More endpoints and features will continue to be added as they are needed or requested.

  • See History for details on past and current releases

  • See Issues for planned & proposed features

  • Create an issue if there is an endpoint or feature you would like to have added

  • PRs are welcome!

Usage Examples

Following are usage examples for some of the most commonly used basic features.

Also see the examples/ folder for some more detailed examples.


Search observations

There are numerous fields you can search on. An obvious search to start with would be getting all of your own observations:

from pyinaturalist.node_api import get_all_observations
obs = get_all_observations(user_id='my_username')

Get an access token

For authenticated API calls (creating/updating/deleting data), you first need to obtain an access token. This requires creating an iNaturalist app.

from pyinaturalist.auth import get_access_token
token = get_access_token(

See Authentication for additional authentication options, including environment variables and keyring services.

Create a new observation

from pyinaturalist.rest_api import create_observation
from datetime import datetime

response = create_observation(
    taxon_id=54327,  # Vespa Crabro,
    description='This is a free text comment for the observation',
    tag_list='wasp, Belgium',
    positional_accuracy=50, # meters,
    # sets vespawatch_id (an observation field whose ID is 9613) to the value '100'.
    observation_fields={9613: 100},
new_observation_id = response[0]['id']

Upload a picture for this observation

from pyinaturalist.rest_api import add_photo_to_observation


Update an existing observation

from pyinaturalist.rest_api import update_observation

    description='updated description !',

Get a list of all (globally available) observation fields

from pyinaturalist.rest_api import get_all_observation_fields
response = get_all_observation_fields(search_query="DNA")

Set an observation field on an existing observation

Observation Fields are a way to add extra information to your observations. They are similar to tags, but with a typed value.

from pyinaturalist.rest_api import get_observation_fields, put_observation_field_values

# First find an observation field by name, if the ID is unknown
response = get_observation_fields('vespawatch_id')
observation_field_id = response[0]['id']


Get observation data in alternative formats

A separate endpoint can provide other data formats, including Darwin Core, KML, and CSV:

from pyinaturalist.rest_api import get_observations
obs = get_observations(user_id='niconoe', response_format='dwc')

Get observation species counts

You can also get counts of observations by species. On the iNaturalist web UI, this information can be found on the ‘Species’ tab of search results. For example, to get the counts of all your own research-grade observations:

from pyinaturalist.node_api import get_observation_species_counts
obs_counts = get_observation_species_counts(user_id='my_username', quality_grade='research')


Search species and other taxa

Let’s say you partially remember either a genus or family name that started with ‘vespi’-something:

>>> from pyinaturalist.node_api import get_taxa
>>> response = get_taxa(q="vespi", rank=["genus", "family"])
>>> print({taxon["id"]: taxon["name"] for taxon in response["results"]})
{52747: "Vespidae", 84737: "Vespina", 92786: "Vespicula", 646195: "Vespiodes", ...}

Oh, that’s right, it was ‘Vespidae’! Now let’s find all of its subfamilies using its taxon ID from the results above:

>>> response = get_taxa(parent_id=52747)
>>> print({taxon["id"]: taxon["name"] for taxon in response["results"]})
{343248: "Polistinae", 84738: "Vespinae", 119344: "Eumeninae", 121511: "Masarinae", ...}

Get a species by ID

Let’s find out more about this ‘Polistinae’ genus. We could search for it by name or by ID, but since we already know the ID from the previous search, let’s use that:

>>> from pyinaturalist.node_api import get_taxa_by_id
>>> response = get_taxa_by_id(343248)

There is a lot of info in there, but let’s just get the basics for now:

>>> basic_fields = ["preferred_common_name", "observations_count", "wikipedia_url", "wikipedia_summary"]
>>> print({f: response["results"][0][f] for f in basic_fields})
    "preferred_common_name": "Paper Wasps",
    "observations_count": 69728,
    "wikipedia_url": "",
    "wikipedia_summary": "The Polistinae are eusocial wasps closely related to the more familiar yellow jackets...",

Taxon autocomplete

This is a text search-optimized endpoint that provides autocompletion in the Naturalist web UI:

Taxon autocompletion in the iNaturalist web UI

This one is a bit more niche, but it provides a fast way to search the iNaturalist taxonomy database. Here is an example that will run searches from console input:

from pyinaturalist.node_api import get_taxa_autocomplete

while True:
    query = input("> ")
    response = get_taxa_autocomplete(q=query, minify=True)

Example usage:

> opilio
527573:     Genus Opilio
47367:      Order Opiliones (Harvestmen)
84644:      Species Phalangium opilio (European Harvestman)
527419:     Subfamily Opilioninae
> coleo
372759:     Subclass Coleoidea (Coleoids)
47208:      Order Coleoptera (Beetles)
359229:     Species Coleotechnites florae (Coleotechnites Flower Moth)
53502:      Genus Brickellia (brickellbushes)

If you get unexpected matches, the search likely matched a synonym, either in the form of a common name or an alternative classification. Check the matched_term property for more info. For example:

>>> first_result = get_taxa_autocomplete(q='zygoca')['results'][0]
>>> first_result["name"]
"Schlumbergera truncata"
>>> first_result["matched_term"]
"Zygocactus truncatus"  # An older synonym for Schlumbergera

…And much more!

Check out the Reference section to see what else you can do with pyinaturalist.


If you have any problems, suggestions, or questions about pyinaturalist, please let us know! Just create an issue here.

Note: pyinaturalist is not directly affiliated with or the California Academy of Sciences. If you have non-python-specific questions about iNaturalist, the iNaturalist Community Forum is the best place to start.