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

20170202 Rabbit veg 8x200

Farmland topiary? No, rabbits have clipped the lower growth of this gorse bush with their nibbling but the bush is sprouting vigorously above rabbit reach. The height of vegetation damage can be a useful indicator of what kind of animal is responsible.

Find out more about the signs of vegetation damage that various pest animals leave.

Culprit corner

weasel droppings1x200Weasel droppings are not often found and are very difficult to distinguish from stoat droppings, as both have a tapering twisted end and will be full of feathers, fur or other animal parts. Weasels’ droppings are generally a bit smaller than stoats’ but not reliably so.

Find out more about weasels.


Junior Pest Detectives

looking at mudMuddy places are good places to look for signs of pest animals because a hoof or paw is likely to sink into the soft surface and leave a print. This young detective found plenty of human shoe prints but also a goat’s hoof prints.

> Learn more about footprints and tracks.



Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

DOC teaching resource 330

New teaching resource for junior pest detectives

31 January 2017

The Department of Conservation has released a new teaching and learning resource, ‘Investigating animal pests in your green space'.

It will assist primary school students (Years 1-6) learn how to:  

  • gather and interpret data about animal pests living in a local green space, such as school grounds or kids' own back yards;
  • identify and learn about introduced pests and how they affect native plants and animals in New Zealand;

Read more

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