Mouse and Rat Poison: Rodenticides Poisonous to Dogs & Cats


By Liz Greenlee, CVT, EMT and Ahna Brutlag, DVM

Did your dog eat rat poison? Pet Poison Helpline gets dozens of calls daily from dog owners (and occasionally cat owners) saying “My dog ate rat poison!” Poisoning from rodenticides (mouse and rat poisons) is one of the most common types of toxicities managed by Pet Poison Helpline. These poisons are easy to obtain and used anywhere there might be rodents—in homes, garages, stables, farms and even parks or wildlife areas. There are many different types of mouse and rat poisons available in a wide variety of colors (green, blue, tan, red, etc.) and formulations (pellets, bait blocks, grain-based baits, etc). Products which look similar and have similar names may contain very different types of poison. Thus, if a dog (or rarer, a cat) ingests mouse or rat poison, accurate identification of the active ingredient is crucial as this will determine the risk of poisoning and the need for treatment. If the active ingredient is not clearly visible on the packaging, another important identifier is the EPA registration number (EPA Reg. No.) – this number will allow Pet Poison Helpline veterinarians to correctly identify the active ingredient.

Below are the four most common active ingredients in mouse and rat poisons along with their mechanism of action, signs of poisoning, toxic doses and treatment options. If a dog or cat ingests one of these poisons, call your veterinarian and Pet Poison Helpline immediately! Rapid action can often save a dog life and prevent the need for costly medical care.


Long-acting anticoagulants (LAACs) are the most common and well known type of mouse and rat poisons.

  • Mechanism of action: This type of poison prevents the blood from clotting, resulting in internal bleeding. Long-acting anticoagulants work similarly to the “blood thinner” medications that people take (e.g., warfarin or Coumadin®). When dogs or cats ingest LAACs, it typically takes 3-5 days before signs of poisoning are visible. However, if the pet has been chronically exposed to the product, the onset of clinical signs may be sooner.
  • Common signs of poisoning: Signs of internal bleeding include lethargy, exercise intolerance, coughing, difficulty breathing (due to bleeding into the lungs), weakness, and pale gums. Less common signs include vomiting, diarrhea (with or without blood), nose bleeds, bruising, bloody urine, swollen joints, inappetance, and bleeding from the gums.
  • Antidote and treatment: Fortunately, this specific type of mouse and rat poison does have a prescription antidote called Vitamin K1. Over-the-counter medications or food with high vitamin K content will not be sufficient substitutes. Most dogs need to be treated with Vitamin K1 for 30 days. Two days after the last dose of Vitamin K1 is administered, a blood clotting test called a prothrombin (PT) should be checked to make sure the clotting is normal.
  • Threat: The dose needed to cause poisoning from LAACs varies greatly between active ingredients. With some types (e.g., brodifacoum), it only takes a very small amount to cause poisoning. Other types have a wider margin of safety (e.g., bromadiolone) and it takes a larger amount to cause poisoning. The age and health of the dog may be another factor determining whether or not the amount ingested will be poisonous. Dogs with underlying liver or gastro-intestinal disease, as well as the very young or very old, are more at risk. Certain species, such as cats, are more resistant to the effects of LAACs and rarely suffer poisoning. Dogs, on the other hand, can be quite sensitive and often require veterinary intervention.


This is one of the most dangerous mouse and rat poisons on the market and seems to be gaining in popularity.

  • Mechanism of action: This poison causes a very high calcium and phosphorus level in the body, resulting in severe, acute kidney failure.
  • Common signs of poisoning: Increased thirst and urination, weakness, lethargy, a decreased appetite, and halitosis (“uremic” breath). Acute kidney failure develops 2-3 days after ingestion. Often by this point, significant and permanent damage has already occurred to the body.
  • Antidote and treatment: This type of poisoning can be one of the most challenging to treat as hospitalization, frequent laboratory monitoring and expensive therapy is often required for a positive outcome. There is no specific antidote, but poisoning generally responds well to aggressive IV fluids (for 2-3 days) and specific drugs (e.g., diuretics, steroids, calcitonin and bisphosphonates) to decrease calcium levels in the body. Frequent monitoring of blood work (calcium, phosphorus, and kidney values) is often needed for a period of 2-6 weeks after ingestion.
  • Threat: Cholecalciferol has a very narrow margin of safety. Small ingestions of this poison may be fatal for any dog or cat; thus, almost all ingestions must be treated quickly and appropriately to prevent kidney failure.


This type of mouse and rat poison causes swelling of the brain. Because the ingredient name looks similar to many of the LAAC poisons, it can easily be mistaken for a LAAC.

  • Mechanism of action: Bromethalin works by uncoupling oxidative phosphorylation in the brain and liver mitochondria and can result in brain swelling (cerebral edema).
  • Common signs of poisoning: Incoordination (ataxia), tremors, seizures, paralysis, and eventually death. The more an animal eats, the more severe the clinical signs may be. Signs can develop within 2 hours, but may be delayed as long as 36 hours. Thus, medical monitoring for at least 24 hours after ingestion is often necessary.
  • Antidote and treatment: In-hospital care for a few days may be necessary because this poison has long-lasting effects. Treatment includes decontamination (administering multiple doses of activated charcoal to bind up the poison), IV fluids, and specific drugs to decrease brain swelling.
  • Threat: With bromethalin, cats are more sensitive than dogs. As this type of mouse and rat poison has a narrow margin of safety in all species, however, prompt therapy is needed.


These poisons are more commonly found in mole or gopher baits, but they also may appear in mouse and rat baits. This poison is of particular concern as inhalation of the fumes from a dog’s vomit may cause lung irritation to both the dog and the pet owner.

  • Mechanism of action: Once in the stomach, this poison releases phosphine gas. Food in the stomach will increase the amount of gas produced and, therefore, increase the toxicity of the poison. Therefore, feeding your dog after ingestion of this poison is never recommended.
  • Common signs of poisoning: The phosphine gas produced by this poison can result in stomach bloating, vomiting, abdominal pain, shock, collapse, seizures and liver damage.
  • Antidote and treatment: This poison also does not have an antidote and immediate therapy should be sought by calling Pet Poison Helpline and seeking veterinary attention. Administration of antacids (e.g., Maalox®) soon after ingestion may help to decrease the amount of gas produced. This is followed by decontamination of the stomach through inducing vomiting or performing gastric lavage (pumping the stomach). During decontamination, care needs to be taken to prevent hospital personnel from being exposed to the gas. Given the potential risk this gas poses for people, vomiting is best induced by veterinary professionals (not dog owners) in a well-ventilated area or outdoors.
  • Threat: The toxic dose is very small and nearly all patients ingesting this poison need to be examined by a veterinarian to determine if treatment is necessary. If your dog vomits in the car while en route to the veterinary clinic, the windows should be rolled down to prevent inhalation of phosphine gas.

The best thing any dog or cat owner can do is to be educated on the household toxins (both inside the house and out in the garden!), that way you make sure how to pet-proof your house appropriately. Make sure to keep all gardening and lawn products in labeled, tightly sealed containers out of your dog’s reach. If you think your cat or dog has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680 with any questions or concerns.

Published on February 28, 2011
Categorized under: Pet Safety Tips

45 Responses to “Mouse and Rat Poison: Rodenticides Poisonous to Dogs & Cats”

  1. Jim Young says:

    Regarding anticlotting rat poisons. If the dog is taking a daily dose of k1 is there still a concern about bleeding? Seems like there wouldn’t be as long as the pet is taking enough k1? However, we were told not to let the dog “be a dog” and run and play, and to keep her inside. Also not to feed dry dog food. However, that is nearly impossible. She has to be a dog. The more confined she gets the more she wants to run and jump when outside. So is the reason to be cautious about bruising,etc, is because she might not be getting enough k1? Or is it that the k1 doesn’t allow proper clotting?

    Thank you.
    Jim Young

    • J.Lee says:

      Great question – when in doubt, check with your veterinarian. If your dog is on the proper dose and getting it (2.5-5 mg/kg twice a day for 30 days), then it is unlikely to be an issue. Dry food is fine, but check with your veterinarian – it really depends on if the clotting test was abnormal. In general, we recommend avoiding rough dog playing, surgery, injections, etc.

  2. Sallie Wilson says:

    So just to confirm if the dog is taking 2 tablets a day of K1 can you walk them at a slow pace at all?

    As Jim has said it’s hard to get the dog to calm down when they are so use to walking / running for an hour a day every day. I understand you can’t allow them to run as this will pump the blood quicker through the body which is probably what you don’t want but can you at least walk them for about 10 mins at least twice a day?

    Sallie Wilson

    • Hi Sallie. If your dog has been on Vitamin K1 for at least a few days, you should be able to walk them for 10 minutes twice a day without risk of bleeding. Once dogs clotting parameters are well controlled with Vitamin K (provided they’re getting the correct dose), excessive bleeding is no longer a risk. If your dog initially had bleeding issues, then you need to check with your vet since they will know the specifics of your dogs case and can best gauge his/her current risk for bleeding.

  3. Kathryn says:

    Came home Friday night and our little chihuahua, 7 lbs, was almost dead – vomit dried around her mouth, laying on her side, and bloody diahhrea, so I picked her up, found she was barely breathing and rushed her to the ER in Austin. They thought they had her stabilized – warmed body, intravenous fluids, etc., and she was improving, then she started vomiting uncoagulated blood. Platelet count was almost nil. very dehydrated. Once she started vomiting the blood, we were afraid that she would continue to bleed to death, and we decided to put her to sleep, as we did not want her to suffer. They wanted to start CPR but did not offer much hope. We were frantic. We are heartbroken but did not want her to be brain damaged or in pain. Know this is a difficult question, but with a little dog, so far gone, should we have gone to the next step which was CPR? I have no idea where she might have eaten poison as I always walk her on a leash, and she did not have the run of a backyard. Could ant poisoning be the cause as the park where we walk has been putting out ant poisoning. Please let me know.

    • Kathryn,
      We are so very sorry to hear about the death of your dog. Please accept our condolences. From the signs you describe, it sounds like she became very ill very quickly and it’s terribly hard to say if CPR would have been helpful. In most cases, as with people, CPR does not actually resuscitate patients. As to your question about ant poison, based on the signs you describe, this would be a very unlikely cause. Some rat poisons can cause bleeding; however, they do not typically cause a significant drop in platelets. A more probable cause of her signs may have been due to a disease called immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (IMPT). This is a disease that causes platelet destruction and subsequent bleeding. Often times, the trigger for IMTP is not known.
      Best wishes to your and your family during this difficult time.

  4. Jim says:

    I found this site because a close friend just had to put down their beloved dog and I was compelled to do some research on the topic of poisons. The dog was found lethargic following partial ingestion of a maggot ridden possum within 12 hours. The possum was believed to be dead for some time – maybe days given the maturity of the maggots. The vet never indicated the possibility of poison, but encouraged euthanasia. I suspect the likelihood the possum ingested a poison – maybe rat poison. However, reading the horrendous mechanism of actions of these poisons and the risks these poisons pose to not only pets, but children – they should be banned. There is no means to control which creature, or child finds these poisons, and having any creature, whether intended or otherwise to simply crawl away and slowly die a tortuous death is not humane. I question the effectiveness and efficiencies of these poisons and being unable to easily dispose of a decomposing creature because it crawled into an inaccessible space does not demonstrate responsible control. In the case of my friend, it seems the possum may have found poison intended for rats perhaps, and after death, was found by the dog. If a pest elimination method is necessary, snap kill traps targeting specific rodents, or live traps present far desirable options while eliminating risk to pets and children. I can’t believe that such poisons can be purchased and used without some controls.

  5. michelle says:

    I have.three dogs n i put them in my garage n they ate rat.posion they were blue.pebbles and how can i treat my dog my dogs are crooker.spaniel do u what can cause them plzz im.very scared n worried about my dogs they got there rabbie shit already will anything happen to.them

  6. mari Perez says:

    My best friend. Dog eat rat poison she a pit bull blue noise wat should. We do

  7. charlene says:

    My masstive puppy hu is 5months old has eaten rat poision that my lanlord had left in the garden but I don’t have a lable or container but its like blue grains of wheat I do not no what to do could any1 please help has its my little girls puppy and I don’t want anything bad to happen to him so worried

  8. Trish says:

    What is the ammount of toxic rat posin does it take to kill a 50 pound dog? He got into some

  9. Reggie says:

    Our little dachshund got into some Decon 7 days ago. Being a new dog owner and thinking he would vomit it up, he did 3-4 days later which we found stains on carpet in unused room. Today we thankfully found a 24 hr pet ER in North Austin. They diagnosed our dog immediately and basically said, without treatment and plasma, IV and vitamin K treatments, he would die as the dog had already gone clinical, in their terms.No if, ands or buts. He was already experiencing blood in urine, bruising under the legs and bladder, swelling under chin, lethargic and not himself.

    I wish we had reacted sooner, but just didn’t know what to do, please if you are reading this for answers. – TAKE YOUR DOG TO VET ASAP! Do not wait if you love your dog. With immediate treatment, you can save alot of money. Failure to treat fast enough as we didn’t do is costly. Our dogs prognosis is still iffy and we are monitoring hourly, but I feel he will make it thanks to the vets immediate treatment. I hope our dog does not sustain lifelong problems due to our inactions and lack of knowledge.

    Again. If your dog ate decon or any kind of rat or rodent poisening. ACT NOW. DO NOT WAIT. SEEK TREATMENT IMMEDIATELY.

  10. NIck says:

    I found blood all over my garage, but I am not sure where it is from. Could it have been from a bleeding rat, or a bleeding dog. I looked at my dogs and they have no injuries. Only one is just looking tired?

  11. Rhett says:

    Hello I just buried my dog a couple of minutes ago. He died with bubbles in his mouth and shakes violently like seizures. Since he lies down, he jerks his movements like he is running and he locks his jaw. I do not know if he is poisoned or rabies, since we live in a vast farm where dogs are able to move freely, but beside it is a rice farm where rats are potential pests. May i know if there is a remedy? Can the active ingredient be known with those symptoms? Thanks

  12. Deborah says:

    My 7.5 lbs Maltese got into green square rat poison. I caught him in the act and got him to spit it out. He chewed on it apparently. I rushed him to vet 5 minutes away. They gave him perioxide to throw up. He barely did and they said there was no sign of it in the salvia. They gave him k shot. It’s been 3 hours and he acts normal. They gave me pills to give him for the upcoming days. Should I still be concerned? He shows no symptoms of being ill??? He’s my baby!!!

  13. Mark says:

    If you know your dog just ate rat poison you can make them drink a little hydrogen peroxide it will make them vomit it up just pour a small amount down there throat it doesnt take much

  14. Rotenna says:

    Its sad. I just lost my dog 5hrs ago. It ingested rat poison and by the time I found out, its already too late. I guess he ate the poison 2 days ago while I was out of town. We confirmed its rat poisoning just 10 minutes before it died. The dog is Alsatian and it was 6 years old.

    • Hi Rotenna,

      We are so, so sorry to hear about the loss of your dog. Thank you for sharing your story to help raise the awareness of this poison for other pet owners.

      Our deepest condolences,
      Pet Poison Helpline

  15. Al says:

    Have a grand pyrannese. Ingested four sealed trays from unopened box of d-con rat poison. This stuff is highly
    attractive to dogs. After 3 days observing lethargy and bleeding, began to treat with 5 mg K1.Bought at local health food store @ $11.00/ bottle of 100, 100 mcg per pill. Requires 50 pills for each treatment.
    to equal 5 mg. Pounded into powder, mixed in some water and diced ham for appeal. After 6 hours great results. Dog up and eating,got her personality back. Continuing treatment for next 30 days. Temp is cold outside. Believe this slowed effects of poison. Hot weather would have spelled death nail probably speeding up dehydration,fluid loss. Provide plenty of water for hydration.

  16. tom says:

    My dog died yesterday. I walked him,fed him and he was ok. About two hours later he was sick-vomiting,diarrhea, lethargic. We took him to the vet who could not figure out what was wrong. Any ideas. I walked him and the only thing he ate was some blades of grass that he threw up before getting sick. I have been racking my brain trying to figure out why he died..miss him.

    • Hi Tom,

      We are so, so sorry to hear about the loss of your dog. Unfortunately, without any more patient specific information or information about the situation we are unable to determine the cause of his death. We are very sorry that you are going through this.

      Pet Poison Helpline

  17. Jacky says:

    Has anybody had adverse effects from their dog while on Vit K tablets?
    My dog is on them right now after eating rat poison and she refuses to eat. I’m have a real hard time getting her to eat anything. She has had a blood transfusion and had all her blood work done and she is fine in other ways. I’m just wondering if Vitamin k makes her nauseous?

    • Hi Jacky,

      A reduced appetite and nausea are not common effects from Vitamin K1. I would recommend that you contact your veterinarian now to discuss the situation. Do not stop giving the Vitamin K until you have spoken with him/her. If your dog’s signs are related to the K1 (unlikely), then it may be that you need to switch to a different brand or a non-flavored tablet. Best of luck!

  18. Cherise says:

    We have a 9 month old lab. I found a box of rat poison in her cage yesterday so I’m almost certain she ingested some but not sure how much. The box wasn’t empty and hopefully we caught her before she was able to eat too much. Should I try putting peroxide down her throat as suggested in some of these posts? What signs should I look for to determine if she needs to see a vet? Thank you!

    • Hi Cherise,

      The symptoms to look for depend on the active ingredient of the product. You can read more about mouse and rat poison here: We also have listings in our poison pages for each of the active ingredients so you can find more information there. If you have any further questions, or if you notice your lab is acting abnormally, please call your veterinarian or our Helpline (800-213-6680) right away for immediate diagnosis and treatment advice.

      Best of luck,
      Pet Poison Helpline

  19. Joe says:

    My dog ate some D-Con that was uncovered while cleaning the carport. (It wasn’t witnessed) she was let out of the house this morning astound 7am and was perfectly normal, this evening around 4:30 she was lethargic, her gums were discolored, and she wasn’t herself. Checked the carport and discovered the missing poison. We rushed her to the vet where she was given vitamin k, and now it’s we are waiting until tomorrow to hear back. My question is. What are her chances of surviving? She’s a 7 month old charcoal lab in good health, weighs perhaps 60 lbs.

    • Hi Joe,

      Her chances of survival are excellent provided that she’s being treated appropriately by your veterinarian. If you wish, you or your veterinarian may call us directly to discuss your dog’s case. We’re happy to get a better understanding of her case and provide specific treatment recommendations to your vet.

      Pet Poison Helpline

  20. margaret says:

    My 3 months old puppy was at the hole where there was rat poison. She was at it for about 10 seconds, but I’m still very worried that he may have tasted a bit of it. He is acting perfectly normal, eating and running about. This happened yesterday about 4. Would he be showing signs now. So afraid anything will happen to him.

  21. lorenz says:

    my dog ate a zinz and aluminun phosphides how did he recover what antidote make him safe?? Plz answer me!! Iam worried about him:(

  22. s. flanagan says:

    My dog has been showing signs of bloating, labored breathing, vomiting, no appetite or energy since yesterday. He’s a 3yr old Jack Russell Terrier. I don’t yet have a veterinarian because we got him recently from a neighbor that moved away. Being a new pet owner just curious what to expect as far as cost at the vet, being as though its still early on.

    • Hi S. Flanagan,
      We’d recommend that any dog with symptoms as you described be looked at. If you do not yet have a regular veterinarian, please feel free to call our 24/7 Helpline at 800-213-6680 for advice and we’d be happy to assist you.

  23. Pat says:

    I don’t know for sure but I took my dog to look at a house that was for sale. The next day I went back and there was a opossum dying at the basement door. Not sure what from but it was scary. I am now concerned that there may have been poison in the area and that my dog could have licked some the day before. He will eat anything. I never noticed him doing that but you never know as they are so fast. Is there a test my vet can do to see if he did ingest anything? Thank you!

    • Hi Pat,
      This is likely a rodenticide poisoning, but possible ethylene glycol… If your dog is normal at this point, he could be tested for blood clotting ability, as well as a general small panel to check liver and kidneys. It would be advisable to see your veterinarian, just to be safe.

  24. Brittney says:

    My dog ate quite a bit of a dried sweet grass (heirochloe odorata) braid made my my native boyfriend. I read online that this plant contains cumerin, a blood thinner in rodenticide. Is he at risk for liver toxicity or internal bleeding or is there not enough cumerin in this plant to harm him? He is a 6 month golden retriever weighing 55lbs. He ate aproxxamatly 2 feet of a 1 inch thick braid (im guessing about 100 strands of grass all together)

  25. Shawn says:

    My dog was just treated a few days ago for the rodent poisoning that can be treated by Vitamin K. She was in pretty bad shape by the time they figured out what was wrong, needed a blood transfusion, plasma, fluids etc and a day of rest prior to release. Well, my son thought he was being helpful this morning (Day 2 of being home) and let her out. She promptly dug her way back into the neighbors yard, where, once I realized what happened I looked and found some poison containers.

    I called the emergency vet who recommended Hydrogen peroxide. Annabelle has since vomited up a bit of her breakfast and lots of white foam, but no green pellets, which was the color of the poison. She still has a month on the Vitamin K, which I did not see in her vomit thus far, but potentially could have missed. Should she be in the clear? And should I give her dose this evening a little early in case she vomited the first one up?

  26. Carol says:

    We have snap and electric traps which have killed 7 rats but there are still quite a few. After sealing up any open areas failed, my husband ordered Bromethalin. We have 2 large Huskies > 50 lbs each. If they chew or find a poisoned rat – could the dose in the rat be lethal to them?

  27. isaac says:

    Hi my dog ate rat poison and will not eat anything,he is a jack Russell.please help me.

  28. tyler nickles says:

    I think my 8 week old puppy ate some decon i just want to know if i give ger the k 1 and she hasnt ate decon will the k1 hurt her

  29. Leisha says:

    My husband is wanting to put mice poisoning under the house, im concerned for my dogs safety..can my dog get sick from the mouse droppings, or urine if the mouse ingested the poison?

    • Dear Leisha,
      You’re asking a very good question! Thankfully, the total amount of poison transferred into the mouse’s feces or urine is very minimal and unlikely to harm your dog. It would be more likely that your dog could acquire some sort of infectious disease from the urine or feces instead. The biggest risk to your dog is getting directly into the poison as that can cause serious harm and even death.
      One additional point of concern is “secondary poisoning” or “relay toxicity”. This occurs when pets eat the carcass of the animal that has been poisoned. In that case, it’s possible for your dog to ingest enough poison to cause harm although the actual occurrence is quite rare.

  30. Sad owner says:

    Our family dog died today. She had been acting weird the past few days, but because of her age, and hat she spent most of her days resting, I did not think much of it. However, today I noticed she was bleeding for her mouth and could not stand. We are staying in at a farm, and I asked my dad what he thought was going on. He told me he was not sure, but to be careful, my uncle had laid rat poison around the chicken coup,’a favorite place of my dog to visit when we let her outside to explore. By the time I figured out what was going on it was too late. My wife, daughter and I are so depressed. This dog was the nicest animal you could ever meet. She never bothered anyone and was the sweetest dog. Everyone loved her, and due to the ignorance of someone placing poison irresponsibly, our dog died. That poison is horrible. My poor dog…i am still so expressed, in part because of her dying, but more so because her last days with me must have been agonizing pain. It was our first pet as a family, and I have learned that pets are a huge responsibility and they get inside your heart. I will miss my dog, the house will be empty without her.

  31. Chrisetine says:

    We caught our dog in the act of eating rat bait. Type unknown. We have given him lots of milk to induce vomiting. It was an hour ago and no symptoms have presented like foul breath or anything else. How long before he is out of the danger period? he bit into it but whether he ingested any of it is unknown. we thought he was a smart dog so hopefully he was smart in this instance.

    • There are some rat baits with a very narrow margin of safety, and there are several possible active ingredients:
      1. The long-acting anticoagulants that cause internal and external bleeding
      2. Bromethalin that can cause swelling in the brain (with subsequent possible seizures and tremors)
      3. Cholecalciferol that can cause an increase in calcium and likely kidney failure
      4. Phosphides that can cause phosphine gas formation, seizures, bloating, etc.

      The fact that the dog is still doing well does not mean the dose was too small for clinical signs, since several of these will not show clinical signs for a day or two, and then trying to treat will be difficult.

      We highly recommend that you try to find the exact product so we will know which active ingredient your dog ingested, and we highly recommend you either call the poison service to help with the identification, or just take your dog to the veterinarian now for decontamination. Don’t wait for clinical signs to occur before doing something about this. We, too, hope he was a smart dog and did not ingest any of the bait, but because we cannot know for sure, and because many of these active ingredients have a narrow margin of safety, it would be best to be proactive immediately.

      Catherine Adams, DVM

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