Scraping APIs with Python

Jan 4, 2023

Web scraping is a powerful technique for extracting data from websites, but modern websites often use hidden APIs to render dynamic data through background requests. Scraping these backend APIs can be an efficient and effective way to gather data. In this article, we'll explore how to find and scrape hidden APIs using Python.

Why Scrape APIs?

Scraping APIs offers several advantages over traditional web scraping methods:

  1. APIs often return structured data in formats like JSON, making it easier to parse and process the data.

  2. APIs can provide more granular access to specific data points, reducing the amount of unnecessary data scraped.

  3. Scraping APIs can be less resource-intensive than rendering and scraping entire web pages.

Finding Hidden APIs

To find hidden APIs, we can use the browser's developer tools to inspect network activity. Here's how:

  1. Open the target website in a browser like Chrome or Firefox.

  2. Open the developer tools (F12 or right-click -> Inspect).

  3. Navigate to the Network tab.

  4. Interact with the website to trigger API requests.

  5. Filter the requests by type (XHR) or search for keywords like "api".

  6. Inspect the request details to understand the API endpoint, parameters, and headers.

Scraping APIs with Python

Once we've identified the API endpoints we want to scrape, we can use Python libraries like requests to send HTTP requests and retrieve the data. Here's a basic example:

import requests

url = ''

params = {'key1': 'value1', 'key2': 'value2'}

headers = {'Authorization': 'Bearer your_api_key'}

response = requests.get(url, params=params, headers=headers)

if response.status_code == 200:

data = response.json()

# Process the scraped data


print(f'Request failed with status code {response.status_code}')

In this example, we send a GET request to the API endpoint with the required parameters and headers. We then check the response status code to ensure the request was successful before processing the returned JSON data.

Handling Authentication and Tokens

Some APIs require authentication or special tokens to access the data. These values may be passed in headers or as parameters. To find these values:

  1. Inspect the network requests in the developer tools.

  2. Look for headers like Authorization, X-API-Key, or custom headers.

  3. Check if the values are hardcoded in the JavaScript source code.

  4. Investigate if the values are stored in cookies or local storage.

Once you've located the required authentication values, include them in your API requests.

Dealing with API Limitations and Blocking

APIs may have rate limits or other restrictions to prevent abuse. To avoid being blocked:

  1. Respect the website's terms of service and robots.txt file.

  2. Use appropriate request headers and user agents.

  3. Implement rate limiting and delays between requests.

  4. Use rotating proxy servers or services like ScraperAPI to distribute requests.


Scraping APIs with Python is a powerful way to gather data efficiently from modern websites. By using browser developer tools to find hidden APIs and Python libraries like requests to send HTTP requests, you can extract structured data with minimal effort. Remember to handle authentication, respect rate limits, and use techniques to avoid blocking. With these skills, you'll be well-equipped to scrape APIs and gather valuable data for your projects.

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