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 species featured in Pest Detective have all been introduced to New Zealand either by accident or intentionally. They are regarded as pests because they can 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

Why are the Culprits not in alphabetical order?

The species on the culprits page are generally grouped with other species that have similar field sign. Grouping them together makes it easier to compare clues, especially the images in the Clues section. Each group of more closely related species (e.g. mustelids) are arranged by size from small to large. See more >

Looking for pest fish, insects or weeds?

symbolic insect seen in magnifying glassPest Detective covers only land-based pest animals that have backbones (are vertebrate).

Go to our 'Looking for other pests' page to find a list of information sources about other pests in New Zealand such as fish, insects or weeds.

How to access in the field?

Shows a mobile phonePest Detective can be used on mobile devices – no special app is required. Where internet coverage is likely to be doubtful, you can download and save or print chosen pages from Pest Detective as PDFs to take with you > read how 


Clue corner

Two chamois with dark winter coats, in snowy environmentIn winter, chamois grow a dark brown, almost black coat, which is darker and thicker than the mostly fawn-coloured summertime coat.

In the alpine areas where chamois are found, tufts of chamois fur may be found in spring when they shed their winter coat.

See more about chamois

Junior Pest Detectives

Hedgehog rolled in a ball at the base of a fenceThis prickly animal hibernates in winter. It slows right down, stays curled up in its den and doesn't eat.

Animals that hibernate when the weather turns cold do so to save energy. It takes energy to keep warm and food can be harder to find in winter. They'll get active again with warmer weather in springtime.

What kind of animal is this? > Answer

Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

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Twiggy possum den revealed

30 June 2021

During the day, possums sleep off their night-time foraging in out-of-the-way dens.

This new photograph sent by Anthea, from Taupo, illustrates one type of place where possum dens might be found - in trees, well above ground.

Read more