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

mustelid tracks comparison 200sqA weasel was  suspected and then confirmed as the intruder when mustelid paw prints were observed inside the perimeter fence at Zealandia wildllife sanctuary in Wellington. (See On the Case story below.) This drawing shows comparative paw prints of the three mustelids found in New Zealand: weasel, stoat and ferret. See more > weasels

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

Tahr 1sqHimalayan tahr are currently in the news, due to the Department of Conservation's proposal to reduce the tahr population on conservaiton land by way of a cull. In New Zealand, tahr are found in various parts of the Southern Alps, where they can inflict considerable damage on alpine and subalpine vegetation. > see more  

Junior Pest Detectives

20181015 Weasel 3200sqImagine you are a lizard sun bathing on a rock. You look up and see this creature looking at you. What should you do? (a) Go and snuggle up because it looks cute and furry. (b) Quickly wriggle into a narrow crevice in the rock. Why?
Do you know what this animal is? Hint: there are two stories about it on this page. > Answer


Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

20181015 Weasel tracks 3

Tell-tale footprints leads to capture

15 October 2018

The discovery of weasel footprints on 1st October put staff on full alert at Zealandia, Wellington’s urban wildlife sanctuary.

If a weasel had somehow got into the sanctuary, it was potential bad news for the vulnerable wildlife living there. Zealandia is surrounded by an 8.6-kilometre predator fence, designed to exclude predators like weasels but, nevertheless, constant surveillance is needed in case of incursions.

Read more