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 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

close-up of gnawed karo fruit  Rats have gnawed on this karo seed and extracted most of the black seeds from the fleshy pith. Karo is not a threatened plant but rarely regenerates on rat-infested offshore islands. In this instance, ship rat were suspected from the size of tooth marks and nearby droppings, and several trap catches nearby > see more about fruit and flower clues

How to access in the field?

Mobile Pest Detec usePest 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 


Culprit corner

photo of a Himalayan tahr Himalayan tahr are currently in the news, due to the Department of Conservation's plans to reduce the tahr population to within set limits. In New Zealand, tahr are found in various parts of the Southern Alps, where they can inflict considerable damge on alpine and sub-alpine vegetation if tnumbers increase too much > see more on DOC's website or our Himalayan tahr page.  

Junior Pest Detectives

Poster, called Wanted! Pesky Culrpits, showing pictures of 30 pest animalsWanted! Pesky Culprits! 

Download our poster – it shows all the pest animals on our website at a glance.

Practice your detective skills by matching poo and paw print clues with the pest animal that left them behind > see the activity sheets on our kids' activites page.   

Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

On the case hedgehog 2020 Aug

Hedgehogs, rats or both?

3 August 2020

When the Pickard family set up a tracking tunnel in their back yard in Arrowtown  they expected to get rat prints but the only clear print they got didn’t look right. So they sent this photo to us at Pest Detective and asked what we thought.

It wasn’t a complete paw print but there was enough evidence to suggest it was a hedgehog’s. 

Read more