Pest Detective is an online tool to help people in New Zealand identify the presence of pest animals.

  • Home binocular
  • Home griselinia 2
  • Home tracks

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

20170501 Pig tracks 11sqThanks to Justin Wheeler for this photograph of a feral pig wallow. Pigs bathe in wet depressions in the mud to rid themselves of lice and other parasites of the skin. Their wallows are found in swamps, gullies and on streamsides and can be confused with red deer wallows. > Find out more about wallows.


Culprit corner

Goat 6 200sqGoats are nimble animals, able to climb steep rocky areas and even climb up on to sloping trunks and branches to reach food. Consequently, they can damage vegetation higher than one would expect from their stature and wreak havoc on plants because they can digest woody material as well as foliage and soft stems. See more about goat vegetation damage >

Junior Pest Detectives

Red deer veg 15sqYou might think that someone had been carving strange hieroglyphics on this tree. The deep gouges were actually made by a red deer stag, rubbing its antlers to either remove the velvet or to mark its territory. Unfortunately, trees can die from the bark damage red deer inflict. See other photos in our red deer section.


Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

Maukatia Bay by MEACT

Possum culprit detected

9 May 2017

Mystery footprints in the sand at Maukatia Bay (pictured) and identified via Pest Detective has prompted the Muriwai Environmental Action Community Trust to add extra targeted traps to its trapping lines.

The Trust, established to enhance the Muriwai environment, has two pest eradication projects; one to achieve a ‘pest-free’ Muriwai and the second to protect the habitat of grey-faced petrels (titi) and little blue penguins (korora) found in the four bays immediately south of Muriwai Beach's famous mainland gannet colony, where Auckland Council and volunteers control predators.

Read more


Thank you to our partners and sponsors: