Visiting and Using the Collection

Scheduling a Visit 

Please contact the collection manager for the part of the collection you would like to visit.


Click here for the consumptive analysis policy.

General Policies 

  • Loans are made to qualified institutions at the discretion of the Curator, or Collection Manager in Curator’s absence. Specimens that are part of active in-house research may not be sent out until work is completed.
  • We do not loan holotypes nor do we loan primates, marine mammals, or other endangered species.
  • No more than half of our holdings of a taxon from one locality are loaned at the same time. In most cases, a request for all holdings will be divided in half with the second shipment being sent after the first has been returned. Some shipments may be further divided depending on the size and condition of specimens requested. The requestor may stipulate groupings of specimens in partial shipments within the confines of this policy.
  • Formal requests should be made in writing on institutional letterhead and not by email.
  • Loans of fluid-preserved specimens are only be made to institutions with staff certified to handle hazardous substances/dangerous goods.

Upon Receipt of Loan 

  • Check number and condition of specimens; note any discrepancies or damage incurred on appropriate copy of loan form. Sign and return this copy to Mammals. A second copy will be provided with the shipment for your files.
  • Retain the box and packing materials for return of the loan. The shipping wooden box is part of the loan and must be returned with the specimens.

Terms of Loan 

  • Loans are usually made for a period of six months. Extensions may be granted upon receipt of a written request. While in the borrower’s care, the following precautions should be taken:
    • a) all skins and skeletal material must be protected against insects, dust, and excessive moisture;
      b) skins must be stored in a dark place;
      c) wet specimens are to be stored in 70% ethanol and away from light.
  • Specimens are not to be altered in any way unless written consent has been given.
  • Authors are asked to send a copy of any publication dealing with this material to Mammals.
  • Loans are made to institutions, not to people. Loans are not transferable to other institutions. If the requestor changes institutional affiliation, the current loan must be terminated and arrangements for a new loan agreement with the new institution must be requested. Failure to comply with this condition shall be grounds for refusal of future loan requests.
  • We are aware that some specimens that pre-date 1970 have been treated with arsenic. However, not all specimens have been tested. Therefore, all users are advised to take proper precautions when handling our specimens.

Return of Loan 

  • Prior to or at the time of return, please send a separate letter giving date of shipment to the Collection Manager. If specimens were fumigated while in your care, please state what pesticide was used.
  • Return the loan in the same wooden box(es) in which it was received.
  • Specimens must be packed in such a manner as to protect them from shock, moisture, or excessive heat. Skins should be wrapped in material similar to that used in shipment to borrower.
  • Use only toilet paper or similar soft paper as packing for skulls. Do not use cotton batting or polyester packing in contact with skulls.
  • Place address labels on inside as well as outside of package.
  • Shipment must be insured for value indicated on front of loan form.
  • Foreign loans should not be returned by airfreight. Please return via the postal system or by private carrier such as FedEx. The loan should be accompanied by US Fish and Wildlife form 3-177 provided by us for re-importation of the specimens, copy of letter written to our USFWS Special Agent at the time of export, original collecting permits or other statements of legal collection, and a copy of the loan invoice. These items must be attached to the outside of the shipping box to facilitate inspection upon re-importation.