Pest Detective is an online tool to help people in New Zealand identify the presence of vertebrate pest animals.
Pest animals are often nocturnal and hard to spot. They leave tell-tale clues that tell us they are in the area.
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?
Pest 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?
Pest 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
The 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
Some 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
Find posters and activity sheets on our Kids' activities page.
Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news
14 June 2021
Did you know we have a Kids' Activities page on Pest Detective?
There are currently two activity sheets and three posters. The 'Wanted! Pesky Pests' poster shows a line-up of all 30 pest animal species featured on our Culprits page.
The other two posters show drawings of the footprints that pests with paws make and footprints made by bird pests.