Do you have a question about an animal, mineral or object? Found a creature at home that you can't identify? Not sure what bird you photographed?

We can help.

First, please review our common enquires below to see whether we have answered your question or identified your specimen or object in the past.

If you cannot find what you are looking for on our website, please contact us using the enquiry form on this page. If your enquiry falls outside of the Australian Museum's fields of expertise, we can put you in contact with the most relevant institution or authority. See the appropriate links below.

Please note that we will only be accepting walk-in identifications between 12-4pm, Monday to Friday. We will not hold any objects, specimens or artworks unless previously arranged through the enquiry form below. Check in with the Admissions desk when you arrive for more information.


Have we already answered your question?

Find out what people have been asking our experts at the Australian Museum and access quick guides to identifying different species.

Check our common enquiries

Enquiry form

Still haven't found what you're looking for? Click the 'Ask an expert' button below to fill in our form and submit an enquiry to our team of experts. If you are uploading an image, you can also read our tips on how to take a good photo for scientific identification.


Is it something outside our areas of expertise?


How to take a good specimen photo

Photos should capture as much detail as possible so we can provide an identification. The more information we have on the item, the better our identification can be!


  • Make sure the animal is in focus.
  • Tell us where the animal was found.
  • Try and get something (a ruler, pen, coin etc.) in for scale.
  • The more photos, the better! Try taking from different angles also, capturing legs, head shape, spines, body, etc.
  • Please do not touch or disturb the animals in their habitat as there is a risk of getting bitten. Take the best photos you can without touching, moving or harming the animals.

If you are sending an insect or spider for identification, it will need to be frozen. This is the most humane way to kill them and preserves a lot of their features.

Please note that the Australian Museum does not examine specimens that have been found on/in human skin or hair nor are we able to provide pest control advice. Medical entomology is a different field; please click here for more information.

Any enquiries sent in relating to Medical Entomology will not be answered.

Small insects that cannot be photographed can be swept into a jar, using a paintbrush. Please do not use sticky tape.

Once you capture it in a jar, leave it in the freezer for at least a day before placing the specimen into methylated spirits for a few days.

In a sturdy, sealable container, place some cotton wool at the bottom then place the specimen on top, covered by some more cotton wool. Seal the container shut before placing into a padded postal bag. Make sure you include a letter that has your name, contact details, where and when you collected the specimen.


Spider identification photo

These are good photos! These photos are from different angles so we can see the overall shape of the spider and make out more features.

Spider identification photo

Take as many photos as you can from different angles and send us the best photos for identification. Try and place something in for scale.

Spider identification photo

This is a bad photo! A single angle image that is taken front on doesn't give us much information for identification. It is also out of focus.

Spider identification photo

These are good photos too. These photos are from different angles so we can see the top and bottom of the spider and make out more features.

Spider identification photo

We do not recommend trying to get this close to live spiders for photos!


  • Make sure the specimen is in focus and well lit.
  • Take multiple photos from different angles.
  • Tell us where the specimen was found e.g. on a beach, buried, etc.
  • Tell us any interesting characteristics, such as:
    • mass (in grams, if possible);
    • size (in millimetres, if possible);
    • whether it is magnetic; and
    • for minerals, whether it can be scratched.
  • Place something next to the specimen for scale.
  • For geological specimens, please include a close-up or magnified view of a more interesting part of the specimen to show crystal structure.

If you are sending a geological specimen, wrap up the item and place it into a padded postal bag, remembering to include a letter that has your name, contact details, where and when you collected the specimen.


Fossil identification photo

This image is not in focus and we don't have something in for scale. This is not a useful image for identification.

Fossil identification photo

This image is in focus and we have a 50c coin in for scale. Providing us with more photos of this fossil would help us make better identifications.


  • Make sure the animal is in focus.
  • Send us the highest resolution images.
  • Try and take photos from multiple angles to see the different features of the animal (head, ears, feet, tail, etc).
  • Tell us the location of where the animal was found.
  • Including a scale, such as a ruler or tape measure, in the photo will help us get an idea of size.
  • Please do not touch or disturb the animals in their habitat. Take the best photos you can without touching, moving or harming the animals.
    • Please note when identifying frogs: There is a risk of transmitting diseases, so please do not handle them.
    • If you see a frog that looks unusual or isn't moving, find out what you can do to help here.

Bird identification photo

There is not enough detail captured to identify these birds. The birds are too far away and the only details captured is the green colour.

Bird identification photo

This photo is better because the colours on the wings are captured, helping us with identification. A scale would also help with identification. When the animal leaves, see if you can place something on the ground to help us with scale. Vertebrates can be difficult to photograph; take as many photos as you can and send us the best ones. Capturing distinct features help with identification.

Rainbow Lorikeets on a fence

This is a very good bird photo for identification. The bird is in frame, in focus and was close to the camera. The fence also gives us a sense of scale.


  • Make sure the animal is in focus.
  • Send us the highest resolution images.
  • Place something in for a scale (ruler, coin, etc.).
  • Try and take from multiple angles to see different features.
  • Tell us the location of where the animal was found.
  • If it was performing an unusual behaviour, try and describe it to us.

Please note that getting a species level identification of these animals is quite difficult, regardless of image quality.


Whitelegge’s Pinwheel Snail

This is a good photo of a snail. The lighting is clear and the animal is in focus. Putting a ruler or everyday item next to the animal (or waiting until its gone and putting something onto where it was) helps with a sense of scale.

Camo Crab - Ciaran Nagle

This crab camouflages very well with its environment. This can make identification difficult! Multiple photos from different angles would help with identification.



First Nations and Pasifika objects

If the item is found in situ (in the ground) please leave it and contact the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Department, The Office of Environment and Heritage.

You can also find out more about the repatriation of cultural material here.

To report harm to Aboriginal items or sites call the Environment Line on 131 555.

If the item was found in a National Park, it would be best to inform them of the find.

To check which NSW Local Aboriginal Land Council is best to contact for advice please go to: https://alc.org.au/land_council/

Please do not send cultural material through the mail. Instead, you can bring the items into the museum for examination.

If the item has already been taken from the original location, follow these tips to take a good photo.

  • Make sure the objects are in focus.
  • Include something for scale.
  • Take multiple images, turning the item over so we can see the entire object.
  • If the item has carved details, take photos of them.
  • Include the exact location of where the items were found.

More detailed information greatly assists us in assessing the request, determining what the items are and advising on what to do next.