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Australian Wildlife

  Oriental Rat Flea (Xenopsylla cheopis)





Oriental Rat Flea | Xenopsylla cheopis photo
Rat Flea

Image by Public Health Image Library (PHIL) of the Center of Desease Control - License: Public Domain.    (view image details)



ORIENTAL RAT FLEA FACTS

Identification
The Oriental Rat Flea is brown and has a laterally compressed body (flattened from side to side) body. The head does not have the spiky large combs like cat fleas and dog fleas. They are parasitic insects and vectors for disease such as plague.

Other Names
Tropical rat flea

Size
Body length 1.5mm to 4mm.

Food
The primary host of Oriental Rat Flea is rats (Rattus species), but it will feed on other mammals including humans. This flea is the vector for transmitting murine typhus in Australia and is a primary carrier of plague in Asia, Africa, and South America. Xenopsylla cheopis is the flea species that was the main vector for the bubonic plague.

Breeding
Fleas undergo a complete life cycle of egg, larva, pupa and adult. Completion of the lifecycle varies from a few weeks to months depending on temperature and food supply. The female flea lays about 15 to 20 tint white eggs per day on the host hair. The eggs fall off and hatch into larvae which develop on the ground in cracks and crevices. The larvae feed on organic debris but do not suck blood. The larvae pupate in a silk cocoon before emerging as adults and finding a host.



Classification
Class:Insecta
Order:Siphonaptera
Family:Pulicidae
Genus:Xenopsylla
Species:cheopis
Common Name:Oriental Rat Flea