Pest animals are often hard to spot because many are nocturnal and/or reclusive. So, we look for the characteristic sign (or indicators) they leave in the field. Browse the different types of indicators below.

Remember that some animal sign can look very similar to that of other species. You can be more certain of your pest culprit if you can find several indicative clues. e.g. droppings, vegetation damage and footprints.


Animal droppings (also called faeces or scats) are one of the most commonly found signs of pest animals.

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Footprints and Tracks

Hoof and paw prints can be helpful identifiers, whether found on the ground or in tracking tunnels. Some species also make recognisable trails, nests and dens, or leave tell-tale mud baths where they have wallowed!

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Vegetation Damage

Damaged leaves, flowers, fruit and bark can indicate the presence of pest animals.  Observe which plants are affected, which parts of them and the details, such as bite marks.

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Kill Sign

Predators might be stealthy but they often leave behind uneaten remains of their bird, egg, small mammal, reptile or insect victims. Likely killers can be identified from the type of prey, the way it was killed and eaten, and the location of the kill sign.

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Other Clues

Smell, traces of fur or hair, vocal sounds, nighttime eye shine or distribution within New Zealand can help identify certain pest animals.

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