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

Weasel tracks 2 crop 200sqWeasel tracks can be difficult to distinguish from those of stoats. They look similar and track size can overlap between adult weasels and juveline stoats. Therefore, other evidence as well as footprints is usually needed to confirm weasel identification > more about weasels

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

red deer 1 463x463

It's red deer breeding season or 'roar'. Red deer are the most widespread of the seven deer species featured in our culprits section. At this time (late March to May), the stags roar and wallow more frequently - behaviour associated with establishing territories and gathering harems of females. > more about red deer.

Junior Pest Detectives

pig other teeth sqBones are a good way of telling what kinds of animals live in an area. These are the skull and jaw bones of an animal that ate plants and meat. It had a long snout and different kinds of teeth for biting, tearing and grinding food. It also had tusks on its bottom jaw. Can you guess the animal? > answer


Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

Possum bark damage fivefinger tree 650

Possums target fivefinger

6 May 2019

Possums are the prime suspects behind the bark damage that has killed numerous fivefinger trees on a Coromandel property.

When Annette Steele and Ben Hunter returned home last spring after some months away they noticed the trees had been extensively ringbarked. Some were already dead. The others, already stressed by the damage, died during the dry summer that followed.

Annette referred to Pest Detective to help identify the bark munchers. The long, straight scrape marks with a darker line down the middle pointed to possums, rabbits or hares. All three species make such marks with their front incisor teeth.

However, rabbits and hares were ruled out because the damage was too high (extending up to more than a metre above ground). The shady forest interior was also not typical rabbit and hare habitat.

Read more