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

Possum bark damage fivefinger tree 650

Possums target fivefinger

6 May 2019

Possums are the prime suspects behind the bark damage that has killed numerous fivefinger trees on a Coromandel property.

When Annette Steele and Ben Hunter returned home last spring after some months away they noticed the trees had been extensively ringbarked. Some were already dead. The others, already stressed by the damage, died during the dry summer that followed.

Annette referred to Pest Detective to help identify the bark munchers. The long, straight scrape marks with a darker line down the middle pointed to possums, rabbits or hares. All three species make such marks with their front incisor teeth.

However, rabbits and hares were ruled out because the damage was too high (extending up to more than a metre above ground). The shady forest interior was also not typical rabbit and hare habitat.

Read more