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

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 >


Clue corner

Pig tracks 1 Pig hooves are cloven into two bilaterally symmetrical halves (toes) like deer, but they are rounder and fatter looking, and 50–80 mm in length and 40–50 mm wide. The dew claws are not directly behind the hoof, as they are with deer, but are behind and to the side. > more about feral pigs

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

Kiore 1Of the three rat species in New Zealand, kiore is the smallest and the first to arrive, around 1280 A.D. They spread widely, with significant impact on native fauna. After other rodent species were introduced, the kiore population declined. They are now found only in the southwest South Island and several offshore islands. > see more

Junior Pest Detectives

Goat veg 16 Goats cause a lot of damage to vegetation, especially in the understorey of native forests. They will eat leaves, twigs and bark - even munching on prickly plants and standing on their hind legs to reach as high as possible. Can you think of any other pest animals that damage plants? > find the culprits here


Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

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Cat dropping or not?

29 August 2019

Rick Haddrell recently sent in this photo, taken on his Waitomo farm. He was unsure as to whether it was a cat or hedgehog dropping.

We think it is a cat dropping due to the size, the smooth, elongated shape with visible segments and the rounded cross section. Hedgehog droppings are smaller, tend to be blacker in colour and drier. Or, could it have been from a mustelid?

Read more