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 >

Looking for pest fish, insects or weeds?

symbolic insect seen in magnifying glassPest Detective covers only land-based pest animals that have backbones (are vertebrate).

Go to our 'Looking for other pests' page to find a list of information sources about other pests in New Zealand such as fish, insects or weeds.

How to access in the field?

Shows a mobile phonePest Detective can be used on mobile devices – no special app is required. Where internet coverage is likely to be doubtful, you can download and save or print chosen pages from Pest Detective as PDFs to take with you > read how 


Clue corner

Photo of an apple partly eaten by a brown hare


Many of our culprit species seriously harm New Zealand's native ecosystems and/or productive sector by eating or physically damaging plants. Signs of vegetation damage can, therefore, be an alert to a problem and a way to narrow down the suspects.

> See the typical clues of vegetation damage


Junior Pest Detectives

Photo of a ship rat showing its incisor teethTeeth that never stop growing!

 Rats and mice (rodents) have four long front teeth, called incisors, that just keep growing. So, they have to keep wearing them down by gnawing on things.

One thing they like to gnaw are chewcards filled with peanut butter. Chewcards are used to get animals to leave bite marks — useful clues for pest detectives!

> Can you guess what rodent bite marks would look like?


Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

Canada goose 1sq

‘Honkers’ are easy to detect

29 January 2021

Canada geese are one of the more detectable pest animals in New Zealand.

Even when out of sight, their honking call is distinctive.

The birds themselves are a common sight in many parts of the country, as they feed during daylight in open areas. In comparison, many of our other pest species are much less visible, being nocturnal, well camouflaged and/or secretive in their behaviour.

Canada geese are easily recognised for their large size. Adults measure 850 to 950 mm in beak-to-tail length.

Read more