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

Cat kill 1 200x200Although cats are known lizard predators, there may be little or no kill sign in the field because they consume all parts of lizard prey. Pictured here are the remains of 72 lizards, found in the stomach contents of a single cat. > see more about cats

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

Dama wallaby 1sqIn New Zealand dama wallaby are found east of Rotorua. To help prevent their spread, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council invites reports of sightings anywhere outside its current distribution. Dama wallaby are hard to spot, though, as they are shy and nocturnal, so reports of wallaby sign, such as footprints and droppings, are also welcome > see clues.

Junior Pest Detectives

Canada goose tracks 1These footprints were made by something that has feathers, a beak and webbed feet to help it swim. It’s a pest animal in New Zealand because it eats crops and pasture. Flocks of these animals also make smelly poopy messes! Can you guess what it is from the pictures on our culprits page? > Answer

Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

Jack Powell rabbit country x650

How to read rabbit sign: hear it from an expert

24 June 2019

There’s nothing like a lifetime’s field observation to learn how to read animal sign. We’ve added audio clips of long-time rabbiter, the late Jack Powell, describing some of the rabbit sign he would look for when out in the field.

Jack knew how to read the landscape for signs of pest animals and he understood their behaviour.

In the following audio clip he describes how he would gauge rabbit populations over large areas of rabbit-prone country in the South Island.


Listen to Jack Powell, courtesy New Zealand Biosecurity Institute. 

Read more