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

Mouse tracks 2x200Tracking tunnels with self-inking tracking papers have been a useful innovation in pest detection (see 'On the Case' story below).

This example shows numerous small mouse prints and one larger possum print. > See more about paw prints and tracks.

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

hedgehog chewcard x200Chew cards are another pest detection innovation of recent years. In this example, sharp canine teeth punctures pointed at first to stoat but then to hedgehog, due to the closer spacing, irregular pattern and puncture marks that did not penetrate through the card. See more about hedgehogs

Junior Pest Detectives

Tracking paper x200This tracking paper is ready to go into a tracking tunnel. If a small animal runs along the paper it will cross the black sticky ink in the middle and then leave footprints on the white card beyond. Can you guess what the blobs of peanut butter are for? Learn how to make your own tracking tunnel from DOC or the Kiwi Conservation Club.


Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

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It's Biosecurity Week!

23 July 2018

‘Shining a Light on Innovation’ is this year’s theme for the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute’s annual awareness week.

Pest animal detection is one aspect of biosecurity that has seen innovation in recent years. After all, it’s important to know what species are present, where they are and how numerous they are to understand the extent of threat and the success (or not) of pest control.

Our Pest Detective website is one such innovation. It filled a former gap in information and was designed as a search and information tool to help people recognise, through observation, the typical signs pest animals leave in the field and understand each species' typical behaviour.

Read more