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

20171102 sika deer map x200Some introduced pest animals have limited distributions within New Zealand. The sika deer is one. It is found only in the North island, mainly in the central part of the island North Island, apart from some scattered populations in the Northland, Taranaki and the Wellington regions that have resulted from illegal releases.

> More about pest animal distribution.


Culprit corner

Brown hare 4 200sqThe brown hare looks like a rabbit but is larger. Its ears are longer and black-tipped, and its tail is black above and white below. With its powerful long hind legs, it has a longer leap than a rabbit and will often zigzag wildly when chased.

> Find more about brown hare.

Junior Pest Detectives

These six pests all originate from the same country – and it's certainly not New Zealand! Can you guess which country it is? Three of them are herbivores (eat only plants). Which ones?

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> To find out search our Culprits page.


Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

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Scavenger or killer?

2 November 2017

It's not easy to distinguish between original predator kill sign and scavenging.

Earlier this spring, Eliane Lagnaz sent us photos of just such an instance near Waipu in Northland. She had noticed a pair of paradise ducks, sounding vigorously, and spotted the entrance to their nest. Three weeks later, when she returned to the area, there was no sign of the birds but she saw a native swamp harrier fly up from the nest area. Eliane investigated and describes what she found.

Read more


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