Make some chew cards to find out what's living in your garden.

Chew cards are a super simple and fun tool to find out which pests are hiding in your backyard. Animals will make unique marks on the chew card that can help you identify what creature made them.

You may have weasels, stoats, possums, rats and mice regularly visiting your garden. Here's one great way to find out for sure!

Did you know?

  • New Zealand has 3 different species of invasive rat – the ship rat, the Norway rat and kiore
  • The family name for stoats, weasels and ferrets is known as 'mustelid'
  • Mustelids were introduced to New Zealand in in the late 1800s to control rabbits, but unfortunately they also have a devastating effect on our native wildlife

What you will need

  • Piece of 3 mm white coreflute /corrugated plastic (see if you can reuse an old real estate sign) trimmed down to 9 x 18 cm rectangles. The longer side should have the open 'holes' in them. 
  • Smooth peanut butter
  • A rounded knife or paint scraper
  • Nails
  • Hammer


Step one

Spread the peanut butter into the holes on opposite corners

Stand the coreflute on its side so the openings of the holes are on the top edge.

Using the rounded knife, push a tablespoon of peanut butter 2 cm deep into the fluted holes on one of the top corners.

Flip the coreflute over and do the same to the diagonally opposite corner.

Top tip: You can add a bit of icing sugar or honey to the peanut butter to make it even more enticing to pests.

Step two

Have a wander round your backyard for a prime spot. You're looking for tree trunks or wooden fences that can you can fix the card 30 cm off the ground.

Step three

Fold the chew card in half and push a nail through both layers so it's open at a 90° angle. Hammer it in! It should be open like a book when you're done.

Step four

If you've created more than one chew card, label them and mark down where they are, so you can get an idea of the distribution of pests in your area.

Tino pai

A nibbled chew card

Celebrate with a cuppa! Take a look at the chew cards after a night or two and see if you've had any nibbles.

The fun part is identifying who made what marks. Use this handy guide from Landcare Research to identify which pests are hanging out in your backyard.

For a quick on-the-go guide:

  • Nibbles on one side only = mice
  • Bites through both sides = rats
  • Punctures = cats, stoats, ferrets or weasels
  • Crushed/seagull shaped dents = possums

Next move is to make a backyard trap to give the native wildlife in your garden a helping hand.

More information

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