Welcome developers! iNaturalist has a lot to offer fellow programmers interested in biodiversity, from data to software to infrastructure.

Open Source Software

Almost all of the software we write at iNaturalist is open source, so if you want want to add some new functionality to the web site or our mobile apps, please go right ahead!

If you're interested in adding new functionality, please start by opening an issue on Github or starting a topic on the iNaturalist Forum so we can talk about what you want to do and come up with a solution that meets everyone's needs. Then you can fork the code base and issue a pull request when you've got work that you'd like to see integrated into the released versions of the software. We'll look over your changes and either integrate them or suggest some improvements.

If you're considering forking our web app code in order to build a narrower version of iNat, please talk to us first! While we welcome forks to the software, we don't want to fork our community. Social networks lose their value when they fragment, so if you're thinking of making "iNat for Country X" or "iNat for Lepidopterists" or something, let's discuss ways that we can incorporate your needs into our existing infrastructure. We have a mechanism for localization through our international iNaturalist Network.


We maintain a REST API that we use internally, but you can use it too! Check out the API reference for info on how to use our API.

We also have a much faster Node.js-based API for read-only operations and stats. We highly recommend using that for retrieving observations.

Regardless of which API you use, please read our API Recommended Practices for guidance on how to use our APIs without impacting the rest of iNat.

Rate Limits

We throttle API usage to a max of 100 requests per minute, though we ask that you try to keep it to 60 requests per minute or lower. If we notice usage that has serious impact on our performance we may institute blocks without notification. The API is intended to support application development, not data scraping. If you want data, see the datasets below.

Downloading over 5 GB of media per hour or 24 GB of media per day may result in a permanent block.


In addition to our export tool, these datasets might provide a better source of data than scraping our API.

  • GBIF DarwinCore Archive: All the data we share with GBIF in DwC-A format, which is just a zip archive of CSV files. It contains records of all Research Grade observations published under a CC0, CC BY or CC BY-NC license, and links to their associated, licensed photos. It was 1.5 GB in September 2019. Updated weekly.

  • iNaturalist Challenge at FGVC 2017: links to 675,000 licensed iNaturalist photos of 5,089 species for use in computer vision training. Created June 2017, not updated.

  • iNaturalist Taxonomy DarwinCore Archive: the entire iNat taxonomic tree and all common names. Updated monthly.


Here are some projects maintained by collaborators that make use of our API:

  1. NHM: Nature Map
  2. iSeahorse
  3. Find-A-Pest (New Zealand)
Revised on July 18, 2020 07:23 by kueda kueda