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

20170310 Stoat kill 4 x200sqKill sign can be a distressing way of detecting the presence of pest animals but is clear evidence of why predators need to be controlled. The culprit who killed this weka was a stoat, inflicting characteristic injuries around the bird's neck. The weka was too heavy for the stoat to drag to cover to eat it.

Find out more about the kill sign that introduced predators can leave.


Culprit corner

Mouse droppings 2 x200sqMouse droppings close-up. Thanks to Astrid van Meeuwen-Dijkgraaf for this photograph, which has filled a gap in our collection. The photograph was taken at macro focus to show the tiny droppings (5-6 mm long) next to a millimetre ruler (foreground). The droppings were a telltale sign that a mouse had invaded the kitchen and a mature male mouse was soon caught and dispatched.

Find out more about the signs of mice.

Junior Pest Detectives

Possum front pawCan you guess what animal has a hand-like front paw like this? Do you think a paw like this would be good for holding onto branches and food?

Take a look through the footprints and tracks clues. When you find this paw, look at the photo of the hind foot as well - it looks very different. Why?


Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

Interactive mapping 201703

Interactive species distribution mapping

21 March 2017

Thanks to the Department of Conservation (DOC) for working with us to develop interactive mapping of introduced mammal distributions in New Zealand.

The new tool, which enables viewers to zoom in on particular geographic areas for more detail, so far includes mouse, kiore, ship rat, Norway rat, possum, hedgehog, feral cat, weasel, stoat and ferret. For these species the interactive maps on the DOC website are linked from thumbnail maps in our distribution clue section. For other species not yet converted to the interactive format, we will continue to use static PDF maps.

Read more


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