Pest Detective is an online tool to help people in New Zealand identify the presence of vertebrate pest animals.

  • Home binocular
  • Home griselinia 2
  • Home tracks

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 species featured in Pest Detective have all been introduced to New Zealand either by accident or intentionally. They are regarded as pests because they can 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

Map of New Zealand showing distribution of goatsThe geographic location of field sign can help narrow down suspects. Some species are widespread throughout New Zealand, whereas others occur only in certain areas and habitats. You'll find links to distribution mapping by the Department of Conservation for each culprit on our Culprits page (under 'other clues') or from on our distribution clue page.

Junior Pest Detectives

Plague skink with a large native moth in its mouthSome pest animals, like this plague skink, prey on our native bugs. That can harm our natural environment because native bugs help to pollinate plants, clean up the forest floor and provide food for other native wildlife such as birds.

Do you know why plague skinks are also known as 'rainbow' skinks? > Find out here

Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

20210412 baby rabbit droppings

Baby animal sign

12 April 2021

The small size of baby animal sign can be misleading, as in a recent case of mystery droppings.

Jeff Mason, of Wellington,  noticed two groups of small droppings in his garage but could find no sign of either an animal or insect. He contacted Pest Detective asking for help to identify what he described as “1-2 mm ball bearing-shaped black droppings.”

Read more