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

stoat-kill-01.jpgStoats prey on eggs as well as small animals and birds. They will usually roll the egg to a quiet place to eat, leaving fragments of shell with serrated edges. In this case, the stoat was disturbed in the act of preying on a takahe egg. It left a tell-tale puncture hole in the egg. > More about kill sign on eggs

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

Cat 4 rex williams x200Cats are adept hunters. Their preferred food is rabbit and small rodents but they also hunt native birds and reptiles. They have been known to hunt some indigenous species to extinction on offshore islands and their predation is linked to serious decline of vulnerable species on the mainland. > more about cats

Junior Pest Detectives

Hedgehog tracks 4 200sqThese handlike footprints were made by an animal walking through a tracking tunnel. The back footprints are longer and slightly narrower than the front footprints. Can you see the difference?  The species of animal was brought to New Zealand from Britain to help control garden slugs, snails and insects. > Find the animal here


Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

chewcard multi species by LandcareResx650

Bite Back

16 December 2019

We have recently added some more content to our Bite Marks section. Bite marks reflect the arrangement, shape and size of an animal's jaws and teeth. They can therefore be used to identify the presence of some pest animals.

The new photographs of Chewcard and WaxTag® sign, kindly shared by Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research, supplement the photographs of skulls and teeth that we already had.

Read more