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 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?

symbolic insect seen in magnifying glassPest 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?

Shows a mobile phonePest 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 


Clue corner

possum bite marks on chewcardBite marks reflect the arrangement, shape and size of an animal's teeth, so can be used to identify the presence of some pest animals. Chewcards or WaxTags® are used for population monitoring of some species. This chewcard shows the different marks that a possum characterisitically makes on each side > see more

Junior Pest Detectives

Rubbing antlers
Fallow deer stag with antlers.Did you know that male deer (stags) grow new antlers every year? The new antlers are quite soft and covered in velvet but become hard and strong for fighting during the breeding season. In autumn, stags rub their antlers on trees to remove the velvet and that can damage and even kill trees. See how many kinds of deer there are in New Zealand.


Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

20210412 baby rabbit droppings

Baby animal sign

12 April 2021

The small size of baby animal sign can be misleading, as in a recent case of mystery droppings.

Jeff Mason, of Wellington,  noticed two groups of small droppings in his garage but could find no sign of either an animal or insect. He contacted Pest Detective asking for help to identify what he described as “1-2 mm ball bearing-shaped black droppings.”

Read more