Pest Detective is an online tool to help people in New Zealand identify the presence of 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, see visual examples of its field signs 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

20180312 red deer other 2 200sqWe've just filled a gap in our red deer clue illustrations, thanks to Astrid van Meeuwen-Dijkgraaf, ecologist at Wildlands Consultants, who is a regular contributor to our photo gallery. Red deer sometimes leave hair where they have rubbed against trees or when crossing fences. This was a piece of pelt on a fence, presumably left by a hunter. Astrid took the opportunity to photograph the typical appearance of the outer and inner coat. See more > Red deer


Culprit corner

Norway rat with dead blackbirdThe Norway rat is the largest rat species in New Zealand. They are omnivores and scavengers, eating plants (seeds, fruits and foliage); animals (birds, reptiles, insects, shellfish) and even garbage. They can climb but are mostly ground-dwelling, so particularly threaten native species that live, roost or nest on or near the ground. For typical sign see > Norway rat

Junior Pest Detectives

Magpie droppings 2 200sqThis comes from a bird and looks a bit like a poached egg but it's not – in fact you certainly should not eat it! Can you guess what it is and from what bird? > Find out here.


Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

Plague skink kill 2x650

Plague skink caught in the act

22 March 2018

Here is compelling evidence of plague skink predation.

The moth is of Family Noctuidae and is probably Graphania mutans (New Zealand cutworm also known as grey-brown cutworm) which is one New Zealand's larger native moth species. A second photograph in our plague skink kill sign section shows the moth remains.

John Stanford, who photographed this animal on the deck at his home in Muriwai, said there are a lot of plague skinks in the area.

Read more


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