I am doing a science project for school and i was wondering if anybody could help me out. I need to know how many and what kinds of animals have been on the iss.


1 Answer 1


No answer to this question is likely to be complete, but I have tried to gather what sources are available to give a good representation of the animal research on the International Space Station (ISS).

Here is a list of the types of animals that have been on the ISS with as much detail as I could find about them. The final portion is an attempt at getting a lower limit on their numbers:

  • Drosophila melanogaster, a species of fruit fly, more than 450

Fruit fly

Credits: NASA

  • Caenorhabditis elegans, a species of nematode or roundworm, more than 8 culture bags containing an unspecified amount of nematodes

C. elegans, roundworm

Credits: Cell Image Library, Bob Goldstein

  • Oryzias latipes, a species of rice fish, known as the medaka, the Japanese rice fish, or the Japanese killifish, more than 5


Credits: NASA

  • Euprymna scolopes, a species of squid, known as the Hawaiian Bobtail squid, at least 1

Hawaiian Bobtail squid

Credits: University of Florida, Jamie Foster (used with permission)

  • Bombyx mori, a species of silkworm, unspecified amount greater than 1

Domestic silkworm

Larvae pictured. Credits: Wikipedia user Fastily under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

  • Girardia tigrina, a species of planarian or flatworm, unspecified amount greater than 1

Girardia tigrina, flatworm

Credits: Continenticola under the Creative Commons Attribution CC BY Licence

  • Helix lucorum, a species of snail, unspecified amount greater than 7

Helix lucorum, snail

Credits: "Helix lucorum 2" by Petar Iankov, http://www.ImagesFromBulgaria.com - by Petar Iankov, (caption cropped from original source image by User:Snek01). Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

  • Coturnix japonica, a species of quail, about 36 or more

Japanese quail

Credits: "Japanese Quail" by Ingrid Taylar - Flickr: Mikiko the Quail. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons

  • Mus musculus, a species of mouse, much more than 40


Credits: NASA

  • Danio rerio, a species of danio fish, known as the zebrafish, at least 18


Credits: JAXA

  • Nephila clavipes, a species of golden orb spider, at least 2

Nephila clavipes, golden orb spider

Credits: Danielle Anthony

  • Vanessa cardui, a species of painted lady butterfly, at least 4

Vanessa cardui, painted lady butterfly

Credits: Jeffery Pippen (used with permission)

  • Danaus plexippus, a species of milkweed butterfly, known as the monarch butterfly, unspecified amount likely greater than 1

Monarch butterfly

Credits: NASA

  • Tetramorium caespitum, a species of ant, known as the pavement ant, about 800

Pavement ant

Credits: "Tetramorium caespitum casent0005827 profile 1" by The photographer and www.antweb.org. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

  • Bees, unspecified taxon, unspecified amount greater than 1


Credits: NASA

  • Tardigrada, the phylum of tardigrades or waterbears, unspecified amount greater than 1


Credits: Bob Goldstein and Vicky Madden, UNC Chapel Hill - http://tardigrades.bio.unc.edu/pictures/ Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

  • Daphnia magna, a species of water flea, unspecified amount greater than 1

Daphnia magna, water flea

Credits: "Daphnia magna-female adult" by Hajime Watanabe - PLoS Genetics, March 2011. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons

  • Artemia, a genus of fairy shrimp, known as the brine shrimp, unspecified amount greater than 1

Artemia, fairy shrimp

Credits: "Artemia salina 4" by © Hans Hillewaert. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons

  • Tenebrio molitor, a species of darkling beetle, known as the mealworm beetle, at least 6 to 8

Mealworm beetle

Credits: "Tenebrio molitor MHNT" by Didier Descouens - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons

  • Pogonomyrmex barbatus, a species of ant, known as the red harvester ant, at least 6

Red harvester ant

Credits: "Pogonomyrmex barbatus casent0006306 profile 1" by The photographer and www.antweb.org. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

  • Musca domestica, a species of fly, known as the housefly, unspecified amount greater than 1


Credits: "Musca domestica housefly" by Muhammad Mahdi Karim (www.micro2macro.net) - Own work. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Commons

  • Streptocephalus, a genus of fairy shrimp, variety used is known as the Dry Lake fairy shrimp, unspecified amount greater than 1

Streptocephalus, fairy shrimp

Credits: "Streptocephalus woottoni" by USGS. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

  • Aedes albopictus, a species of mosquito, known as the tiger mosquito or the forest mosquito, unspecified amount greater than 1

Tiger mosquito

Credits: "Aedes Albopictus" by James Gathany/CDC - This media comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Image Library (PHIL), with identification number #4487. Note: Not all PHIL images are public domain; be sure to check copyright status and credit authors and content providers. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

  • Eisenia fetida, a species of earthworm, known as the red wiggler worm, at least 20 to 30

Red wiggler worm

Credits: "Redwiggler1" by Mihai Duguleana; - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

The study of animals on the space station has been very popular with the public to the extent that the Onion, the satirical "news" source, saw fit to make up their own animal for the ISS: Mischievous Raccoon Wreaks Havoc On International Space Station.

It is also possible that some animals, such as dust mites, have gotten on board outside of study purposes. Dust mites were known to inhabit the Mir space station and other space missions. Current allergen studies on the ISS have not involved the detection of dust mites.

Dust mite

Credits: "CSIRO ScienceImage 11085 A scanning electron micrograph of a female dust mite" by CSIRO. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons

And, of course, there is one I have left off:

  • Homo sapiens, a species of hominin, known as the human, 220 and counting

Human astronauts aboard the ISS

Credits: NASA


  • $\begingroup$ Wonder what happens to all the mites on the body of an astronaut during the course of the stay on the ISS? Does an astronaut have to acclimatize afresh once back? $\endgroup$
    – Everyone
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ Amazing answer and wonderful read. This deserves more up votes. $\endgroup$
    – Scott
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 13:23
  • $\begingroup$ Note to new readers: I just edited this answer to add one I missed, Daphnia magna which was on the ISS in 2011. I have also updated to add the animals from the experiments that have taken place since May 2014 when I last updated this post. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 21:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I just joined this community to post this. Mosquito!!!?? Do we really need them in space too!? $\endgroup$
    – mj_
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 16:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @mj_ You can see in the comments of this answer that the mosquitos were all larvae and were not allowed to develop past that stage. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 17:16

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