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

20180502 wallaby distrib NZOf the two species of wallaby that occur on mainland New Zealand, both are classified as Unwanted Organisms. Their different distribution is a distinguishing clue:– dama wallaby occur in the Rotorua lakes area and Bennett’s wallaby in South Canterbury > see distribution maps (scroll down)


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

20180502 brown hare 4200sqThis brown hare looks quite a lot like a rabbit. How can you tell the difference between the two species and the signs (clues) they leave in the field, such as droppings, footprints and the places they sleep?

Compare our rabbit and hare information


Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

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Rat or wētā droppings?

2 May 2018

New Zealand’s native wētā droppings can be similar in size and texture to rat droppings but there can be distinguishing features.

As illustrated in this photo recently supplied by Peter Sweetapple, wildlife researcher at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, wētā droppings have blunt ends and often have longitudinal ridging. The ridging can be darker in colour on fresh droppings, resulting in a striped appearance, which fades with time.

Read more


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