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

Hedgehog tracks 1 500x500Hedgehogs have 5-toed footprints and different fore and hind foot prints. Their footprints can be confused with those of ferrets and large rats, but ferrets and rats have only four toes. See more > Hedgehogs

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

Canada goose 1sqCanada geese used to be classified as a game bird in New Zealand, managed by Fish and Game New Zealand. However, in 2011, they were instead listed as an unprotected species due to the damage they can inflict on agricultural grasslands and crops, and their adverse impacts on ecology, including aggressive behaviour towards native birds and potential to damage the health of riparian habitats. See more  > Canada goose

Junior Pest Detectives

magpie other plumage 4sq

What's black and white, comes from Australia, has a strong beak, red eyes and sounds a bit like this - "quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle"? This photo gives you a clue as to what kind of animal it is > Answer


Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

Possum tracks 8sq

Mystery tracks at nesting site

26 November 2018

A confusing series of animal tracks in sand near nesting sites of the vulnerable northern New Zealand dotterel recently had local wardens puzzled.

One of the wardens, Lisa Kierny, send photographs to Pest Detective of the mystery tracks found at Simpsons Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula. Tracks in sand can be difficult to identify because footprints can be blurred due to the sand settling and wind smoothing off edges. However, there was enough information in the photos for three different pest animals to be identified.

Read more