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

rodents tracks comparisonIdentifying footprints in tracking tunnels is an effective way of identifying rodent populations. Mouse and rat populations could increase rapidly in the mega-mast (see culprit corner below) predicted this summer and autumn, making monitoring and control particularly important. See more > footprint comparison

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

Stoat 3 500x500Tracking down stoats is a priority this year. A mega-mast (widespread prolific flowering and fruiting) is predicted in beech and podocarp forests. The bounty of food leads to rapid increase in mouse and rat populations. Stoats then multiply with the increase in prey – also, preying in increased numbers on vulnerable native wildlife. See more about stoats >

Junior Pest Detectives

possum veg 15sqIf you see partly-peeled lemons like this hanging on your lemon tree, it's highly likely that a furry, marsupial animal has been eating the rind. Can you guess the pesky, lemon-peeling culprit?

> answer

> more about the culprit


Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

20190131 possum other 2

'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