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

20170704 Plague skink nest 2x200We now have one reptile culprit on Pest Detective: the plague skink, so called because of the high population densities it can rapidly achieve. Their nests are quite distinctive - often communal, like this one, which contains eggs of at least 8-16 females.  > Read more about plague skinks.


Culprit corner

Unwanted Organisms: Five of the species we've just added to our website are classified as Unwanted Organisms in New Zealand. They are plague skink, dama wallaby, Bennett's wallaby, rainbow lorikeet and rook. As Unwanted Organisms it is an offence to breed or release these species without permission and if you think you see any of them outside their known distribution areas phone your regional council or the Ministry for Primary Industries Pests and Diseases Hotline 0800 80 99 66.

Junior Pest Detectives

Rodent comparison ventral 200sqDid you know there are four different kinds of rodents in New Zealand and they are all pests? They are harmful to our ecology because they feed on native plants and prey on native animals – even mice have been known to eat eggs and kill young birds.

> Find all four rodents on our Culprits page.


Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

Sylvia Park School

Pest Detectives at Sylvia Park School

12 August 2017

We were delighted to recently receive twenty hand-written and beautifully illustrated letters from enthusiastic young pest detectives at Sylvia Park School.

The Year 2 pupils described how they had discovered that there were resident hedgehogs at the school and that hedgehogs are pests.

As part of an inquiry project investigating animals, they had made an animal tracker to see what pests they had at the school. They used peanut butter as a lure and red food colouring to record footprints from any animals that visited the tunnel.

Read more


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