A little itch here and a bit of scratch there. If this is the way your pet cat or dog is behaving, you can be sure they have a flea infestation. Fleas are one of the oldest pests known to mankind. They are responsible for wiping half of Europe's population due to Black Plague.
These tiny, wingless insects are capable of long jumps and hitch hiking a ride around the world sticking to an animals fur. Sucking on blood like tiny vampires, fleas are able to transfer many serious diseases to their host. There are different types who survive by sucking the blood of mammals and birds. Let us learn about these flea types.
What are the Types?
Fleas are divided according to the type of host species they live on. However, some fleas are very well capable of jumping over from one animal species to another. One of the oldest fleas to be found was fossilized in the Baltic amber.
This amber belonged to the Upper Eocene era, that was about 55 million years ago. This means, they were present since the early days of mammal evolution. Till date, there are over 2,000 species of fleas found in the world.
Dog Flea (Ctenocephalides canis)
These fleas feed on the blood of dogs. They are capable of feeding on cat blood too and are able to bite humans sometimes. These fleas can survive for months without a meal. Their mouth parts are well adapted to be able to pierce the skin and suck the blood of the dog.
Their body is flat from side to side and is covered in spines and hair. This helps them get a grip on the dog hair while traveling. Their hind legs are very long, that help them to jump onto a suitable host body.
Cat Flea (Ctenocephalides felis)
These are the most found fleas on the earth. These fleas feed on the blood of their feline host, but may even enjoy a dog blood meal. Cat fleas can bite humans, but cannot cause an infestation. These fleas can transmit diseases like murine typhus as well as parasites like tapeworms into the host body.
Moorhen Flea (Dasypsyllus gallinulae)
These are large fleas that are found in birds. They are easy to identify due to the horn-like spines on the genital flaps of male fleas. These are common parasites for many birds that include the grouse, European Robin, Willow Tit, common Moorhen, etc.
Northern Rat Flea (Nosopsyllus fasciatus)
This is a flea type that inhabits the fur of domestic rats and house mice. These fleas have an elongated body that is about 4 mm in length. They are normally parasites of the Norway rat. But, they may occasionally feed on the blood of wild rodents as well as humans. They are known to be carriers of the rat tapeworm as well as serve as a vector for plague.
Oriental Rat Flea (Xenopsylla cheopis)
Also called the tropical rat flea, they are one of the most dangerous fleas in the world. They are the primary vectors for murine typhus and bubonic plague.
When this flea feeds on the blood of the infected rat and then bites a human, it spreads the diseases. These fleas look very similar to the dog and cat fleas. The oriental rat fleas are responsible for the spread of Black Plague.
These are brownish black fleas that are about 4 mm long. They are a nuisance for the human population and can transmit diseases like tularemia, murine typhus, diseases caused by tapeworm, etc.
These were some of the different types of fleas. These tiny parasites can lead to many diseases in animals, birds as well as humans. Getting rid of them is the only solution to prevent spread of diseases caused by these tiny vampires.