Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much does eMammal cost for researchers?


eMammal provides a set of software tools and long term data storage for free, however there are some costs for using eMammal cloud computing services. Cloud computing enables users to upload data from any location with an internet connection and it also allows experts to review data at their convenience from any location. Processing photos through our Amazon cloud servers does create costs that we must recover from researchers, and these costs are detailed below. The costs are nominal and are much lower than the cost of creating and maintaining a robust database large enough to handle the amount of photos and metadata generated by a large camera trapping project.


We charge a small setup fee for each project that is created on the website. We also charge a fee to move data through our cloud application. The pricing is determined by each camera month of data that is uploaded and is used to compensate for charges by cloud vendor. Once data are uploaded and stored in the Smithsonian Data Repository there is no cost for data storage or retrieval. A camera month is defined as all the photos and data collected by a camera trap in a month, and can be considered as one memory card upload. Researchers can estimate costs by multiplying the number of cameras they have by the number of months they will be in the field, regardless of how often the cameras are moved. For example, if a researcher had 10 cameras that they were leaving in the field for 6 months they would pay for 60 camera months and a researcher that had 10 cameras that they moved once a month for 6 months would also pay for 60 camera months. A researcher that had 10 cameras that they moved every 2 weeks for 3 months would pay for 30 camera months (10 cameras x 3 months). 



The project setup fee is $150.


Table 1. Fee breakdown.





Setup, one time




Data processing fee

Per volume, see Table 2
Usually $4.19/CM



Data storage and retrieval









Table 2. Data processing fees and discounts.

Num Camera Months

Per Camera Month Fee




















Camera trap costs:

Suitable camera traps cost approximately $200 (Bushnell) to $600 (Reconyx) each. Camera trap accessories including locks, SD cards, batteries, and memory card readers total approximately $50 per camera.


2. Do I need my own camera traps?

It depends on the locations. In some places, it may be possible to borrow a camera trap through an established projects. In others, they require you to have your own. Check out this page for a list of projects recruiting volunteers.


3. What kind of camera traps will work?

Our software works well with pictures from Bushnell and Reconyx brand camera traps .  Other camera models should also work but have not been tested. See our discussion on camera trap models for more details and the possibility of using other cameras.


4. What kind of camera trap should I buy?

The eMammal staff recommends you purchase Reconyx* or Bushnell brand camera traps to participate in eMammal projects. See our discussion on camera trap models for more details and the possibility of using other cameras.

*Reconyx is preferred over Bushnell.


5. Can students use camera traps?

Yes! eMammal can be used by people of all ages. We have developed science curricula that links camera trapping and science education for K-12 and university settings.


6. Where should I put my camera traps?

First check with your project for specific requirements (e.g. at designated coordinates or type of habitat). Camera traps should be placed in clear areas, in areas of low human traffic, and pointed away from roads on a straight tree.


7. Are the data made public?

Yes, although some studies place an embargo on their data so that they have a chance to analyze and publish their results first. You can download and analyze the data from past camera trap projects here!


8. Are endangered species at risk from these photos?

No. The specific locations of endangered species are not made available to the public, to protect the species from potential poaching. 


9. What if I don't get any animals on my camera trap?

Even if you find no or few animals on your camera trip, your photos are still valuable to answer scientific questions! In addition to knowing where animals are, we also need to know where they aren’t. We want you to upload the photos and identify what is in the photos (there are options for camera trappers and humans).


10. Do you want all my pictures?

Yes. You will import ALL of your photos to the software and identify all photos, even if there are no animals in the photos (there are identification options for humans, and no animals). We generally ask you not delete any photos from the memory card, including photos of you setting up the camera and human photos (see our statement on privacy).  

However, if your camera has malfunctioned, or had a branch waving around in front of it, and has taken many 100's or 1000's of blank photographs, these pictures should not be uploaded.  A few blank frames here and there are fine to upload (we'd like to double-check that they are blank, as people sometimes miss small animals in the frame).


11. Can I use pictures I find on the eMammal website?

Yes you can use photos you find on our website, as long as you follow the terms of our Creative Commons license. You may use the photos for non-commercial purposes, you may not significantly modify the photos, and you must credit eMammal and the project or the project investigator as the source of the photos.


12. What happens when it rains?

Camera traps are designed to be used under all weather conditions. They will function fine in the rain and should not be turned off.


13. What do you do with pictures of people?

You will upload all photos from your memory card, including people photos. People photos are stored and blurred in a digital repository at the Smithsonian, but will not be released to the public. If something illegal is captured, please contact us immediately at


14. Do animals notice the camera traps?

Some animals notice and investigate the camera traps. If you look through our View Photos page, you may see some photos of animals doing this. However, camera traps do not seem to change the behavior of the animals. Some animals, like bears and elephants, will even destroy camera traps.


15. Do the camera traps make a light or noise?

When the camera traps are armed, they will not make noise or emit light. The camera traps we recommend use an infrared flash for night and low light pictures. This flash is barely visible and does not scare animals, but does mean that night photos are in black and white.


16. How long will a camera last?

A camera trap deployment will last as long as the batteries last, which depends on the quality of the batteries and the number of photos taken. If new batteries are used, a single deployment can last for months. However, most projects in eMammal run deployments for 3-4 weeks regardless of battery life. The camera traps themselves will last for years.  


17. How long should I leave the camera in one place?

In most cases, camera traps are moved every 3-4 weeks. However, for some projects, camera traps may be left in the same location, but with different deployments run every 3-4 weeks. Check with your project on protocols.


18. What permission do I need to set a camera trap on public land?

Your project manager is in charge of setting up these permissions, please contact them for further details. Usually, for a national park you will need a permit, and for some projects the potential site needs to be approved by the superintendent or land manager.


19. Can I see all my pictures in eMammal?

eMammal stores all photos in a digital repository at the Smithsonian, pictures can searched and downloaded in the Browse Data tab under the View Data Images heading. 

Setting a camera in the field FAQ

1. How high should I set the camera on a tree?

Camera traps should be set up at knee height on trees. This ensures that smaller and larger mammals are captured. 

2. What if there isn't a tree?

If there is no tree, camera traps can be locked to structures such as fences or poles if you own the property or have permission (link to permission). Make sure that the poles or fences are not open at the top so that someone cannot simply pull the camera trap off. 

3. Should I bait?

No. Baiting the camera may attract some types of animals, but cause other animals to avoid the area. We want to capture what animal are in the area naturally and therefore do not want the results changed by bait. This answer may vary according to your project manager, so please verify with them.

4. Should I check the camera every few days?

No. Once your camera is armed, it should not be turned off until the deployment is over (3-4 weeks). You also do not need to “visit” the camera. Animals smell humans and to get the most animal photos, it is best to minimize human scent. 

5. What do I do about grass in the view?

Vegetation blowing in the wind can trigger the camera. Clear vegetation directly in front of the camera with vegetation cutters before you set up the camera. Short grass (e.g. mowed lawns) is okay. 

6. How do you prevent camera traps from being stolen?

Camera traps are locked to prevent theft. Your project manager should provide you with some if they are also providing camera traps.


For Desktop App Users

1. I accidentally closed the program while ID-ing animals. How do I get back into the deployment?

Restart the program and after you log in, click "Continue Previous Session." That should start up the program where you left off.


2. I loaded the wrong photos for a deployment. How do I delete those from the program?

Use a different computer to upload the correct photos. Do NOT press the upload button in the Desktop App for the wrong photos.


3. What is a sequence and how does eMammal recognize it? 

A sequence is a series of pictures taken by a camera trap over a short span of time. When photographs from camera traps are loaded into the eMammal desktop app, eMammal will considered a picture part of a sequence if it was taken within one minute of another picture.


4. Something else is wrong! Who do I contact?

Please contact your project manager for more help!


5. I am a professor and I want my students to help me upload pictures for a class assignment. Should they all make eMammal accounts?

Our suggestion is that you create an eMammal account for your class and have all your students use that. The only caveat to this suggestion is that you will not get student specific feedback for which students are getting certain animals incorrect, etc. If this feedback is important we suggest that you manually keep track of which students are uploading which deployments. You can then forward the feedback (which will be associated with the class's account) to the appropriate student. 

Expert Review Tool

1. Help! I approved a deployment but it's still showing up as blue and needs review. What do I do?

When this happens, go into the deployment and "unapprove" the first sequence. This kicks you back out of the deployment. Go back in and "reapprove" the first sequence. 


For Page Editors

1. I keep getting redirected to my user profile page when I try to edit my project, add a deployment, etc. What's going on?

You should clear your cache and restart your browser. The recommended browsers for the eMammal site are Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. This issue occurs due to weirdnesses with the Smithsonian servers, unfortunately.

Contacting Us

1. My question hasn't been answered!

Please check out this website for more answers to commonly asked questions (especially if you are a NC Candid Critters volunteer)! If it is still not answered, please contact your Project Manager if you are a current user.


2. I want to learn more about using eMammal and talk to someone!

You can use this Contact Us form. The eMammal team is small and will get to your query as quickly as we can!