Pest Detective is an online tool to help people in New Zealand identify the presence of vertebrate pest animals.

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Pest animals are often nocturnal and hard to spot. They leave tell-tale clues that tell us they are in the area.


Browse by Clues

If you are not sure what animal pest you have, browse our photo library of animal signs and match to your examples.

Browse by Culprit

If you think you have identified a pest species, browse the visual examples of its field signs to check your identification and learn more about it.


What do we mean by 'pest animal?'

The animals featured in Pest Detective have all been introduced to New Zealand either by accident or intentionally. They are regarded as pests because they threaten the health of our native ecosystems and/or primary production sector, though special management is required where people value a species for such things as hunting, agriculture or as pets  > read more

Looking for Other kinds of Pests?

If you are looking for information about pest fish or non-vertebrate pests, like insects or weeds, we can refer you on to other websites you might find helpful.  > read more


Clue corner

Weasel tracks 2 crop 200sqWeasel tracks can be difficult to distinguish from those of stoats. They look similar and track size can overlap between adult weasels and juveline stoats. Therefore, other evidence as well as footprints is usually needed to confirm weasel identification > more about weasels

Using Pest Detective in Field

Mobile Pest Detec usePest Detective can be used on mobile devices – no special app is required. 

It is not available offline although this is something we would investigate if there is enough demand. If you are out of internet range you can save content in PDF form to your mobile device or, of course, print onto paper > read more 


Culprit corner

red deer 1 463x463

It's red deer breeding season or 'roar'. Red deer are the most widespread of the seven deer species featured in our culprits section. At this time (late March to May), the stags roar and wallow more frequently - behaviour associated with establishing territories and gathering harems of females. > more about red deer.

Junior Pest Detectives

pig other teeth sqBones are a good way of telling what kinds of animals live in an area. These are the skull and jaw bones of an animal that ate plants and meat. It had a long snout and different kinds of teeth for biting, tearing and grinding food. It also had tusks on its bottom jaw. Can you guess the animal? > answer


Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

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'Infurring' evidence

31 January 2019

This close-up of possum fur is one of several new 'body covering' photos in the 'other clues' group on our Clues page, where clues such as an animal's smell, its sound, bite marks, characteristic eye shine and geographic distribution are also featured.

Body covering includes fur, feathers and, in the case of the plague skink, the scales that cover reptilian skin. These can be helpful identifiers, whether sighting the actual animal or finding traces of fur or feathers left behind.

Read more