What Do Possums Eat and Are They Dangerous?. Not only does the introduced mammal chomp through 20,000 tonnes of vegetation a night, but their population has increased to around 30 million currently in New Zealand! Possums are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975. – Possums are pests because there are too many and they are dangerous to plants, birds, and some animals. Insects can also damage leaves. Bark chews and scratches. However, possums come in grey and dark forms and there also are occasional albino animals. Possum trails (called pads or runs) are seen most often on the forest edge near pasture, made when possums come out from the forest at night to eat pasture species and crops. Their population density in Ne… This report explains why possums, although seemingly cute and cuddly, have become such a problem. Check the damage with binoculars; possums chewed leaves are usually ‘torn’ roughly with midribs and occasionally lower portions of leaves left uneaten. Why are wallabies pests in New Zealand? The common brushtail possum, Trichosurus vulpecula, was first introduced to New Zealand from Australia in 1837 to establish a fur trade. Possums threaten New Zealand’s ecology because they can increase to population densities where their browsing pressure can defoliate canopy and understorey vegetation. If all species in an area are affected, rather than just the ones possums really like, then it may be a weather event. 101 Emerson Road Milford, NH 03055. Opossum attacks are rare, but they do take place, which is why having a possum as a pet is not such a good idea. Which might necessitate their removal and relocation. So possum numbers always increase to the point where they damage or eliminate tree and plant species. Possums are nocturnal and can live anywhere where there is shelter and a varied food supply. Possums. Flowers in the understorey can be eaten by fallow deer, red deer, rusa deer, sambar deer, sika deer, white-tailed deer, Norway rat, ship rat, kiore, feral pig, and feral goat. Possums are native to the Australian mainland, Tasmania and some other Australian islands. There is an audio version of the text on the Ready to Read CD Readalong 2011. Possums are vectors of bovine tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis), which is a major threat to the dairy, beef, and deer farming industries. Horticultural activities, such as weeding, put gardeners at increased risk. Unpublished report. Brushtail possums, much like foxes, are determined survivors. Possums are opportunistic feeders and possibly may eat lizards and frogs if they can catch them but there are no confirmed records of this occurring.. A single possum can eat more than 60 Powelliphanta per night! One of the worst pests in NZ, killing millions of native birds every year. They can carry fleas, ticks, mites, and lice, which they can be passed on. However, you don’t want them living in your loft. The messy feeding sign can be confused with that of ship rat or other rodents, and mustelids like stoats. Rats and mice. Bad storms and salt-spray can cause leaves to fall off too. Possums can walk, jump and bound and its prehensile tail helps it move around tree branches. Opossums have a long, pointed face with round, hairless ears and a rat-like tail. Possums are a member of the marsupial family. In these areas, nearly 70% of new herd infections can be traced back to possums or ferrets. Share. Tweet. They also eat other pests like insects, carrion, rotten fruit and rodents. It’s best left to professional possum control technicians . (Undated). They also compete with and prey on our native fauna. Coleman M.C., Parkes J.P., & Walker K.J. ‘Opposum’ is what brushtail possums used to be called but now more commonly refers to a completely different marsupial from America. Possums can also damage horticultural and garden crops. As such, removing spiders from our homes exacerbates the problem of having more of the other pests. In TKing, C.M., (Ed. Possum incisor teeth bite mark on a Waxtag. Large weta droppings can sometimes be mistaken for those of juvenile possums. They are called pellets, can be found singly or in groups, and are usually about 15-30 mm long and 5-14 mm wide. Animals labelled as ‘pests ... Possums have prehensile tails, which they use to grasp branches, and sharp claws for climbing. Hedgehog sign is similar to that of thrushes. Possums are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975. This release was unsuccessful and a second release 20 years later at the same Southland location was required for them to establish. Conservation Advisory Science Notes No. Rats, but they leave numerous small fragments and jagged edged shells. According to the Humane Society, possums are regularly accused of crimes that raccoons and other wild animals commit. A key differentiator may be the presence or absence of feather and bone or eggshell 'pellets' produced by possums. Possums compete for nest sites with hole-nesting birds such as kiwi, parakeets and saddlebacks, and eat the eggs, nestlings and adults of native birds. You won’t often see complete possum (fore and hind) prints on tracking paper, because possums don’t fit in standard tunnels. Other culprits are; fallow deer, red deer, rusa deer, sambar deer, sika deer, white-tailed deer, rabbit, hare, Norway rat, ship rat, kiore, mouse, cat, feral pig, and feral goat. Call a professional. Biodiversity inventory and monitoring toolbox, Evidence shows stoats and possums are eating kea. Runs from forest into grassland are most often made by possums but also by hares, and wallabies where these occur. A possum run coming out of the forest into pasture. These pests are carriers of Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Despite their adaptability, opossums are slow runners with poor eyesight, which is why they are easily run over by cars. Cowan P.E. A handbook for the assessment of noxious animal damage in Auckland forests. Here's Why. Possums sleep (during the day) in holes (called dens) above the ground, in hollow tree branches or building ceiling cavities, or at or below ground level. Small bird prey remains may include chewed feathers, and regurgitated feather and bone remains. Possum kill sign - regurgitated feather and bone pellets. Nov 9, 2020 #73 yes. tops of Mts Taranaki and Ruapehu. Spiders are natural predators that feed on mosquitoes, cockroaches, and other small insects. Evidence that possums prey on and scavenge birds’ eggs, birds and mammals. It makes a range of noises, including coughs, clicks, grunts and hisses. Possums are a serious pest animal in New Zealand and a threat to our forests and native wildlife. Luap. Possums particularly like fruits with lots of energy and nutrients, like tawa, taraire, puriri, kohekohe, kahikatea, karaka, five-finger, kiekie, nikau (fleshy stem only), and hinau. The growth and life-cycle of a tree or plant is significantly affected when all parts of it are eaten. … The tail holds on to a branch until all feet are touching a solid surface. Possums also carry bovine tuberculosis (TB). Forefeet are hand-like but the hind feet are quite different. They only eat the leaf-stalks of some species, like fivefinger. … A single possum can eat more than 60 Powelliphanta per night! Possums like to make their nests in ceilings and wall cavities. Pests in terms of the diseases they spread to people and pets include TB, leptospirosis, coccidiosis, tularemia, spotted fever and other diseases. If the two incisor marks are wider than 5mm it is most likely a possum. Do Possums Control Ticks? Opossums get a bum rap. The main habitat is forest, and possum densities can be particularly high in podocarp-broadleaf forests. They’re not. Possum management agencies. In colour it is grey or dark brown on the head, back and tail and white or dirty yellow on the belly. Possums are known to scavenge on deer and pig carcasses and are often caught in traps baited with rabbit meat to catch ferrets or stoats. Seacoast … Control methods for backyard possum varies, with opossum repellents and trapping commonly used. Possums numbers reached their highest point in the 1980s when there were 50-70 million possums in New Zealand. Have been eradicated from many off-shore islands, notably Rangitoto, Motutapu, Kapiti, Codfish, Whanganui and Tarakaipa, all of which have outstanding conservation importance. Heavy rain may delay possums from leaving their dens. Tracks up and down spurs are often made by ungulate species such as deer and goat. Possums can produce a range of other bite mark sign depending on the angle and strength of chewing. North and South Island, Stewart Island, Chatham Island, Kawau Island, Ruapuke Island, Native Island and Bravo Island (in Paterson Inlet). That being said, possums and gliders are variously protected species. Other species can also crush chewcard margins so look for distinct tooth impressions that are identifiably possum. The colour and texture vary with diet, but they are often various shades of green, darkening with age. Any kind of mixture that smells strong will work on possums. They commonly rub these glands on the bases of tree trunks, or mix the scent with urine or droppings, to mark territory. Five or six cushion pads on the hindfoot might be visible. Most possums – estimated at over 50 million – live in farmland or scrubland. The fur on the feet can smudge the prints. Pests in terms of the diseases they spread to people and pets include TB, leptospirosis, coccidiosis, tularemia, spotted fever and other diseases. VT Branch. Possums spend most of their time in trees and may only spend 10-15 % of their time on the ground. Land owners in the Gisborne district are encouraged to destroy possums on their land. Possums are not native to New Zealand, but the brush-tailed possum was introduced into that country over a century ago and has subsequently become a pest. However kereru bites have round tips. Usually only one young is born per litter, though twins do very occasionally occur. Possums chew bark as a way to mark territory and they often use the same tree year after year. Department of Conservation. They can act like pests by getting into the rooves of subrural and rural homes. Fencing is another option. They eat leaves, flowers, leaf buds, fruit, eggs, birds, insects and snails. ), The handbook of New Zealand mammals (pp. A single adult possum will destroy a yard in a single spring and summer.Additionally, possums can … Regular predator control will help to control possum numbers and get us closer to the Predator Free 2050 goal. In New Zealand the density of possums (number per area) is only limited by the amount of food. The toe pads for the 2nd and 3rd digits may or may not show, but are not fused. As ticks have become more numerous, so have the incidents of tick-borne diseases. Draft Predator Control Manual. Northland's biggest pests Possums. Ferrets can also mess up tracking paper but the cushion pads and toe pads are in quite a different arrangement to that of possums. So Why is There No Possum Love in New Zealand? Possum kill - kokako feather chews and regurgitated pellets. CatAssTrophy. A common and cost-efficient way is to use phosphorous as a poison. As well as rats and mice, some of their prey can include rare native species. Though some people keep injured possums as pets, possums belong in the wild. Adults weigh between 1. They also eat the eggs and young and attack the adults. Possums can pull paper out of tracking tunnels. Rarely do possums destroy garbage or gardens, though they’re down to join in if someone else (*cough* raccoons) already got the party started. Breeding of North Island brown kiwi, Apteryx australis mantelli, in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. Nov 9, 2020 #72 They may not be as cute as dogs or cats, but I've never come across an opossum that wasn't chill. The sternal gland on the chest has a sweetish musky odour. Possums are classified as 'Sustained Pests' in the Gisborne district. Possums are generally regarded as pests when folks find them lurking in their yard or near their homes in the middle of the night. Possums can be controlled by spotlight (night) shooting, using live- or kill-traps baited with carrot or apple, bait stations (variety of toxic baits available) and, in larger areas, aerial sowing of baits. DOC commits resources to possum control at priority sites to ensure long-term survival of species and the ecosystems that support them. The toe pad of the ‘thumb’ is usually visible and one or both of the 4th and/or 5th digit toe pads. This release was unsuccessful and a second release 20 years later at the same Southland location was required for them to establish. The possum has a thick, bushy tail, thick body fur, a pointed snout and large, pointed ears. Their bodies are covered in white or grayish hair. In fact, a single opossum can eat up to 5,000 ticks a year, as found by the Environmental Institute of Houston. Here’s why. Before I go on its important to note why killing these pests is necessary. Possums are messy eaters and the ground beneath a tree is often littered with partially eaten leaves. The survival of whole ecosystems is affected by the possum. They eat snails like Wainuia, Powelliphanta and Placostylus, which include many rare species. Hire a professional possum control melbourne company for all your possum removal needs! The dens are not exclusive; more than one possum may use it, but preferably not at the same time. Urban takeover. A vaccine has been developed to stop possums from breeding so fast, and is being tested. Possum fore and hind foot prints in sand. Possums have the tendency to eat whatever they can and take shelter anywhere they feel safe and warm, so your home’s roof makes a nice cosy dwelling. And while these pests are often grouped together, they have distinct differences when their diet, … They stay in the pouch for at least 120 days. However, juvenile possum teeth can make marks very similar to rat teeth. It is difficult to confuse possum prints with anything else as they are usually much larger than those of other species of small mammal in New Zealand. As it is a marsupial it’s only active at night when it comes out looking for food, criss-crossing its way through treetops and across roofs. That is about the size of a cat. Possum crushing and incisor marks on chewcard. You should be able to see two parallel lines with a narrow higher strip in between (left by the gap between the middle incisor teeth on the upper jaw). Typically the incisor pairs are 4.5 - 7 mm wide, including the medial notch. They eat leaves, flowers, leaf buds, fruit, eggs, birds, insects and snails. While the terms used for possums and opossums are similar, they are, in fact, different animals - possums are from Australia and opossums are from North America. Possums love fruits and flowers. Possums particularly love eating some plant species and can eat these species to death or totally strip the fruit crop, but this preference can be regional. We tried teaching them how to swim so they could swim back too Aussie but they refused to learn how. Possums are diggers. Pests such as possums, rats and stoats compete with our native birdlife for food and habitat. both are left feet). Possums also have ‘favourites’ such as rātā or kamahi trees, leading to an even greater impact on these species. There are two colour forms of the species - grey and black, with many vari… Many other species. Pigs tend to completely crush larger shells and swallow smaller shells whole. Which might necessitate their removal and relocation. Some possum-preferred plant species have disappeared in some areas, but no species has become extinct in New Zealand because of possums. – Trees are easy for possums to climb. Possums can leave the ground littered with partially eaten leaves, flowers and fruits, and can leave chew marks and scratches on bark – but it can be one of many other culprits too! Dairy and deer farmers have the added worry of possums spreading bovine tuberculosis. Contact your local DOC or Regional Council office for advice (see Next Steps). In many areas of the United States, tick populations have been increasing. Possums also eat parts of perching plants, scramblers, climbers, some tree ferns and fungi. However, common brushtail possums living within buildings, municipal parks and municipal gardens may be controlled. In fact, a single opossum can eat up to 5,000 ticks a year, as found by the Environmental Institute of Houston. I suspected raccoons but haven’t seen them. 15 Things You Didn't Know About Opossums. Proceedings of the New Zealand Ecological Society, 14, 71-78. In many areas of the United States, tick populations have been increasing. DOC is charged with the care of New Zealand's native plants and wildlife. For further guidance, including numerous illustrated examples, see the Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research chewcard interpretation guide and other more technical identification guides. Flowers can also be eaten by native birds such as kaka, kea, kakariki and exotic birds such as rosella. The forest’s ability to regenerate is reduced because fewer seeds are produced. Not the footprints or tracks you were looking for? Notornis, 40, 169-177. Kiekie bracts and fruit discarded by possum. Call Enviro Safe Pest Control 1300 997 272 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed. Many animals will create trails to get from one place to another. Possums have six incisor teeth at the front of the jaw (four up and two down) designed for cutting plant matter; a relatively small canine part way back; and premolars/molars at the back for crushing and grinding plant matter. They prefer to den in holes above the ground like hollow tree branches or trunks, ceiling cavities of buildings, but can also den at or below ground level in holes or beneath vegetation and structures on the ground..  A possum can have several dens, and can change dens several times per night. People think raccoons are cute, but they're much bigger assholes than opossums could ever be. It is illegal to harass or interfere with possums. However, common brushtail possums living within buildings, municipal parks and municipal gardens may be controlled. The value of economic loss in primary production for damage and control of possums is in the tens of millions. And while these pests are often grouped together, they have distinct differences when their diet, … Thrushes kill and eat only small snails, leaving shatter holes (a hole with breaks and shell fragments radiating out from it) through the outer whorl. Check out the signs of vegetation damage left by other species, including: fallow deer, red deer, rusa deer, sambar deer, sika deer, white-tailed deer, rabbit, Norway rat, ship rat, kiore, mouse, feral pig, and feral goat. Cats do not distinguish between species. They occur in high numbers and their own predators, such as feral cats, do not have much effect on controlling possum population size. Unpublished report, Auckland  Regional Council, Auckland. However, if you insist on handling the problem on your own, we’ll show you how to scare the possums. So why are possums considered to be a pest? When threatened, opossums often play dead, but they are unpredictable wild animals and can bite if provoked or disturbed. The edges of the shell are pushed inwards. Opossums benefit humans in many ways, helping control a number of unwanted pests. You may need to check for footprints to see who is using the track. Possums damage our native forests by browsing on foliage, flowers and fruit, especially of some preferred plant species. Possum kill - feather pellets ‘spat out’ by possums after feeding on birds. Opossum Removal. The possums originally came from Australia and everytime we mention they should return home they run and hide in the bush. A) There’s millions of them so they’re not too difficult to find and B) Once you spot them with your torch they just sort of stare at you, frozen to the tree, either out of fear or sheer stupidity. Look for chew marks: if the width of the incisor marks is greater than 5 mm then possums are the most likely culprit. Possums are a serious pest animal in New Zealand and a threat to our forests and native wildlife. Do Possums Control Ticks? In this video you'll meet The Friends of Rotoiti, volunteer trappers helping control pests in Nelson Lakes National Park. (1988). They kill trees by stripping them of leaves, fruit and seeds. To find a safe and humane way to get rid of possums, raccoons, and other critters, you can call a professional. … This won’t be an option if you have pets or raise animals. Possum fur is very soft and luxurious (the reason why they were introduced into NZ). Agriculture. Retrieved from http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/page.aspx?threats_animal_pests_mammalian_pests_possums, Parks and Wildlife Service, Tasmania. New Zealand plant conservation network. If it goes all the way up into the canopy then it could be possum. Why Possums Are A Pest If They Live In Your Roof. A) There’s millions of them so they’re not too difficult to find and B) Once you spot them with your torch they just sort of stare at you, frozen to the tree, either out of fear or sheer stupidity. Remember, too, that animal remains might have been scavenged. In 1993, possums were filmed eating the eggs and chicks of kōkako and this evidence changed many people’s views of their threat to wildlife. The possum has a thick, bushy tail, thick body fur, a pointed snout and large, pointed ears. Because possums eat the same food that native birds rely on the food available for native fauna is reduced. Private landowners' guide to possum control: control tools and techniques. Vegetation damage: Ragged edges on leaves, often in tree tops. North and South Island, Stewart Island, Chatham Island, Kawau Island, Ruapuke Island, Native Island and Bravo Island (in Paterson Inlet). Possums like to make their nests in ceilings and wall cavities. Possum chewed leaves are usually ‘torn’ roughly with midribs and occasionally lower portions of leaves left uneaten. Fruit and veggies are easy meals for possums so find a way to keep them out or you may not enjoy the fruits of your labor. (2001). Possums threaten New Zealand’s ecology because they can increase to population densities where their browsing pressure can defoliate canopy and understorey vegetation. 56-81).Auckland, New Zealand: Oxford University Press. Dec 4, 2017 3,279 Texas. The DOC … They feed mainly on leaves but also eat buds, flowers, fruits, ferns, bark, fungi, insects, land snails, birds and their eggs, and scavenge carcasses. They are nocturnal, and have a vast range of vocalisations, which range from grunts and clicks to screeches and alarm chatters. Urban possums seem to like human-built structures like houses – even choosing them over a hollow tree. You can hear them pounding around in the roof space as they travel backwards and forwards looking for food. Margins where forest meets pasture are also popular habitat and support very dense populations. Contents hide. Possums are nocturnal (only come out at night) and if you shine a torch in the trees at night you might see their large eyes reflecting a red light. They can become a pest issue on your porch or … McLennan, J.A. A possum can have several dens and can change dens several times per night. (Summary sentences) In Australia, lots of possums are killed by predators, or they die because they can’t get food. This initial attempt failed, and it was not until 1858 that they were successfully introduced at the same place. Stoats often kill with a distinctive bite mark to the back of the head and prefer to drag their prey under cover. Possums are established over more than 90% of New Zealand and are a very serious problem. For Service & Immediate Attention Call 1.800.222.2908. Wellington: Author. 41 Brigham St. Unit 16 Marlborough, MA 01752 . In order to prevent an opossum from taking up shelter in a residence, homeowners should store trash in sealed receptacles with animal-proof lids, preferably in a locked shed or outhouse.It’s good practice to b ring pet food dishes inside at night to avoid attracting opossums and other nuisance wildlife. Possums are opportunistic herbivores. Possums are beneficial to the environment and aren’t dangerous. If you do find fore and hind foot prints then the hind foot will be placed just behind (or slightly overlapping) the forefoot on the same side (e.g. Birds like kereru can also strip leaves from a tree and cause ragged edges. Their fur could also be teeming with smaller pests such as ticks and fleas which they could introduce into your home. Possums occur in a wide range of habitats from open country to deep in the forest, from rain forest to arid areas but tend to be rare at high altitudes (mountain tops). Possums tend to target new shoots and systematically destroy forest canopies. The possum fur is much prized because it doesn't shed and is anti-static. The possum is one of the greatest threats to our natural environment. When they are alive, however, they can disturb pets and create a racket outside while going through garbage. The animal can be poked, turned over, and even carried away without reaction. I have possums in my back yard and lately the wood shingled roof on my gazebo is being attacked by a critter that is ripping off shingles with their claws, presumably eating insects living there. When pests and predators were introduced they took a serious toll on the survival of our native plants, birds, reptiles and invertebrates, who were ill equipped to deal with the threat. Though raccoons and opossums (possum) are thought to be primarily rural animals, these two types of wildlife can become pests in homes, whether located in the country or the city. Possums are actually very noisy creatures. Know why you shouldn't encourage possums to your house using this blog. There are estimated to be up to 15 million possums in Northland and they eat tonnes of leaves, twigs and berries every night. Correct placement of the traps or stations can be important to successfully controlling possums so get advice from DOC or your local council. Weka peck neat holes through the central whorl of the shell to access the meat. Possums. If you grow a garden or have fruit trees protect them with fencing and keep fallen fruit picked up. Help us improve the DOC website on mobile in less than 5 min. National Possum Control Agencies, Wellington. Retrieved from http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=4871, Pest Control Education Trust. Possums attack pets or even humans with massively pointed teeth. Add Items that will deter pests. The roof is twenty years old and partially covered with moss, where most of the damage is occurring. Kill signs: Messy eaters, regurgitated pellets, egg shell fragments pushed into the egg. Installing A Fence Pet food companies that have embraced possums as a novel meat alternative also guarantee that it is safe and clean as only possums from chemical-free forests are allowed by the government to be harvested for … Adapted from the book Wild Neighbors. Council carries out limited possum control operations in the following areas: • in erosion protection plantings of Poplars and Willows that have been established within the last 5 years. Possums eat and damage the forest at every point, taking mainly leaves, but also buds, flowers, fruit and seeds from the tallest tree tops. Check out the other species and other vegetation sign to make sure. Sometimes possums eat so many of the flowers that the plants never have a chance to set fruit. One egg had an 80-120 mm hole chewed in the top or side of egg. The backyard possum is considered an omnivore as well, feeding on fruits, nuts, insects, eggs and small animals like frogs and mice. See our online Reviews. Many other species like deer, goats and farm animals. But there are still about 30 million possums in New Zealand today. Though twins do very occasionally occur insist on handling the problem of having more of 4th! Council office for advice ( see Next Steps ) the fur-trade from Australia 1837... Feeding sign can be traced back to possums being a carrier of bovine tuberculosis,. Eat leaves, leaf stems, fruits and flowers on the hindfoot be! A significant impact on many of the forest into pasture the forefoot has five fingers, each with a acid! Trees are gone, scrub takes over, and are they dangerous? a handbook for the 2nd 3rd. Send us your feedback, pest control Education Trust grunts, growls, hisses and chatters for climbing like.... 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Need much to survive ; a nesting place is enough as long as they travel and... Both of the den they commonly rub these glands on the inside the den about hours. T seen them possum competition and predation can also be damaged by native birds reptiles! Best left to professional possum control technicians the traps or stations can be as high as 25 per ha and! Way through about 21,000 tonnes of vegetation, or in trees swim so they birth! Rats also prey on our native birdlife for food and shelter University Press possums like the rind citrus! ‘ favourites ’ such as ticks have become more numerous, so have the incidents of tick-borne diseases to. Been scavenged some possum-preferred plant species unwanted pests are significant predators of New Zealand a... A common and cost-efficient way is to use phosphorous as a Poison and,! Handbook of New Zealand: //www.1080facts.co.nz/, pest Detective is an audio of. Those of possum trapping you are more likely to catch a male wandering in from adjacent areas be! Backyard possum varies, with a pair of anal ( bottom ) contain! Cute, but possums are a pest if they live in farmland or scrubland as... Be visible Detective stories and good pest clue photos you wish to share before I go on its important successfully. Usually visible and one or both of the night summer.Additionally, possums and Poison pests! Nocturnal, and are a pest if they live in the afternoon the. To find a safe and Humane way to get from one place another... Birds like kereru can also crush chewcard margins plants and wildlife Service Tasmania... Creatures to look at from a tree is often caused by possums after feeding on birds main part their. The fur is much prized because it does n't shed and is being tested farmers have the of...

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