Oriental Rat Flea

Family Name

Xenopsylla cheopis

Characteristics

Type:

Jumping – Biting

Size:

The flea’s body is about 0.1 inch.

Colour:

Varies from light brown to dark brown.

Behaviour:

Also known as the tropical rat flea. This flea can live on any warm-blooded mammal. A flea is wingless so it cannot fly, but it can jump long distances with the help of small, powerful legs. Fleas live in the nests of their host animal; in this case they live in rats’ nests. Fleas only attach to their hosts when feeding and move freely about the host’s nest the rest of the time.

Habitats

This species of flea can be found worldwide, wherever its favourite host animal is found. Fleas are prevalent in major cities and urban areas where certain human habitats attract rats (think city sewer systems). They prefer tropical and subtropical habitats and are rarely found in cold areas.

Tips for Control

If you live in an urban area, the best way to prevent an oriental rat flea infestation from entering your home is to limit the number of places that mice, rats and other rodents can hide. This includes keeping your home, yard and garage clear of garbage and food trash, as well as any other potential rodent food source. When you’re outdoors, take care to use flea repellents on yourself and your pets, fleas like to hang around campsites and hiking trails where they can smell out warm-blooded prey. When you come home from an outdoor adventure, always brush your pet with a flea comb and if you find fleas, take your pet to the veterinary for treatment immediately. Oriental rat fleas are difficult to remove from the home once they’ve taken hold. One sign that your pet may have a flea problem is excessive licking, scratching and biting and scabs or hot spots on the animal’s skin. The easiest way to check for fleas on a dog or cat is to gently separate the fur with a flea comb and look for dark, moving spots on the skin. Oriental rat fleas are dangerous, but if you keep a clean home and take the proper precautions when out and about, you will probably never have to deal with them.