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 >

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Pig rooting on pastureRooting is the most common and evident sign that feral pigs are present. Pigs root for food by digging up the soil with their noses and can do an enormous amount of damage to the ground surface. 

They are omniverous, so root for plant material, insects and invertebrates.

See more about feral pigs

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 


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Picture of an adult kioreKiore were the first rat species in New Zealand, brought here around 1280 A.D. They spread and had a large impact on New Zealand's ecology. Kiore populations declined after European arrival. They are now found only in parts of Fiordland, Southland, South Westland and on several islands, including Stewart Island > more about kiore

Junior Pest Detectives

Magpie attacking harrier hawkAerial attack!

One of these birds is attacking the other. It is known for its fierce territorial behavour, which is one reason it is a pest in New Zealand.

Can you guess what it is?

Hint: it comes from Australia > Answer

Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

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Now is the time to look for Rooks

25 September 2020

It’s breeding season for rooks, which means it is more likely you will see this unwanted organism. If you do, report your sightings to the local regional council but don’t go near the birds.

Rooks are intelligent and extremely wary of anything new or unusual. If they become suspicious, they will move to a new location, which can impede ongoing efforts to eradicate the species in New Zealand.

Read more