Project description

African Mammalia is the successor of African Rodentia. Since its launch in 2007 the African Rodentia database has become an important reference with on average 100 unique visitors per month, about 50,000 page views per year and more than 150 registered users. Part of its popularity is thanks to its unique combination of taxonomical, ecological, geographical and genetic data, as well as data on parasitic and viral infections. While rodents, and in particular murids, still make up the largest part of the specimen collections, recent research has increasingly focussed on other mammal taxa like shrews and bats. Because of its proven usefulness for the diffusion of data on African rodents the taxonomical range of the African Rodentia database was expanded in 2019 to include all African mammal orders.

African Rodentia was a deliverable of the Muridae project which aimed at making the data on collections of African rats and mice of the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA), the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) and the University of Antwerp (UAntwerpen) accessible to a wider public. While working on the different databases not only the Muridae were included, but the other African rodent families as well.

This collection is also provided to GBIF, which you can access here.

Project objectives

The extensive specimen and tissue collections of the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA), the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) and the University of Antwerp (UAntwerpen) provide taxonomical, ecological, geographical and genetic data, as well as data on parasitic and viral infections. The scientific importance of these collections is that – although numerous African rats and mice have been described over the last 150 years – many species descriptions are based on very few specimens. Ongoing studies by the applicants (and others) combine craniometrical features, chromosomal data and DNA sequences to address these taxonomical problems as propagated by the Consortium of the barcode of Life. It is clear that should these collections, and the information they contain, become accessible for the international research community, the value of these collections for taxonomical studies underpinning eoclogical research would increase dramatically.

The main objective of this project is to make all relevant information on the following target groups accessible to a wider public. This objective can be obtained through the completion and transformation of currently available databases into a searchable website. It is our intention to maximize the usefulness of the created databases by allowing queries on all fields, thus not only on species names, but also on the collector, the locality, date of collecting, habitat, type of infection, availability of measurements, morphological and DNA sequence information. This combination of data has never been available for investigation and this is an excellent example of how the combination of databases may create novel opportunities for research. For example, when combined with new and future collection data, this website will not only facilitate taxonomic research, it will also provide key information for the designation of species and areas that require particular attention by biologists.

This project was funded by the Belgian Biodiversity Platform, a Belspo-initiative.


Many thanks to Peter Desmet, André Heughebaert and Julien Cigar of BeBIF for their assistance and support in the development of the website. The finalisation of data input and actual development of the website was achieved through support provided by the Belgian Biodiversity platform, an initiative of the Belgian Science Policy.

Intellectual property rights

Collection specimens are the property of the respective institutions where they are deposited. All data associated with those particular specimens are therefore also property of those institutions. Most of them are already available and belong to the public domain since there were published in taxonomic revisions under headings such as 'Material examined'. When information of a particular specimen is used, reference should be made to the museum where it is housed, by indicating the institution's name or acronym.

Copyright of the images (photographs or drawings) used is indicated on the individual image. This is either the institution where the photograph was taken or the photographer that took it. In case of published drawings, the copyright remains with the publisher.

Whenever information that is provided through this website, is used by third parties, reference should be made to the website for example by the following or similar phrasing:

Van de Perre F., Adriaensen F., Terryn L., Pauwels O., Leirs H., Gilissen E., & Verheyen E. (2019). African Mammalia,

Note that derived data such as craniometric measurements and sequences can only be used after written consent.


Although care was taken that the data incorporated in the database are correct, the proponents take no responsibility whatsoever with regard to the use of the data here by third parties. Persons retrieving information from this website for their own research or for applied aspects such as pest control programmes, do so at their own risk.