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 teethmarks on a chewcard with measurementsStoats have a pair of long pointed canine teeth on the upper and lower jaw, which leave pairs of circular puncture marks, spaced about 7 - 9 mm apart. This measurement can distinguish them from similarly paired circular puncture marks left by weasels, stoats and cats. > More on bite marks


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

Australian magpie, white-backed formKeep a wary eye out for Australian magpies during the spring breeding season, as some males aggressively defend their nests. The white-backed subspecies (pictured) is most common in New Zealand, while the black-backed form occurs in Hawke’s Bay. > More on Australian magpies

Junior Pest Detectives

Rainbow lorikeet, sittingWatch out!

If you see one these colourful characters in the wild, report it on this hotline number: 0800 80 99 66. They are only allowed in New Zealand as cage birds and we don’t want them to escape as they could become a bad pest. Can you guess what kind of bird it is? > Answer


Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

20201103 barking up the wrong tree

Barking up the wrong tree?

3 November 2020

Bark damage is often a clearly visible animal pest sign but identifying the culprit is not always easy – as Roger Young found at his property on the outskirts of Christchurch.

After returning from holiday earlier this year, Roger was dismayed to see a lot of damage on some lowland ribbonwood (Plagianthus regius) trees in his restored wetland. He at first suspected possums because they had repeatedly stripped bark from gum trees elsewhere on his property and he had trapped a good many in that area. Normally, he would have been checking his property daily and would have noticed the damage before it became so extensive.

Read more