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The tropical rat flea, also known as the oriental rat flea is a flea that primarily feeds on Norway rats. They are the primary carriers of murine typhus and bubonic plague. Tropical rat fleas can also acts as tapeworm hosts, and the diseases they carry can be transmitted through their eggs as well.
Identifying the tropical rat flea
Tropical rat fleas don’t have genal or pronotal combs – a comb-like structure that is found below and behind the head respectively. This is the most marked difference between them and other flea species. The rat flea does not infest pets or homes, but they can be brought into the yard by rats, mice or rabbits. So, if you have mice, rats or rabbits around you, make sure you keep the environment clean.
Tropical rat fleas can grow up to 2.5mm long and their bodies consist of three parts: the head, the thorax and the abdomen. Although the adult fleas don’t have wings, thy are made to jump 200 times the length of body length with consummate ease. They can smell carbon dioxide and smell heat at a distance. Once they smell a source, they instantly jump on to them to start feeding. The bite from a tropical rat flea looks like a tiny red dot, which is usually surrounded by a lighter red halo. Although there is no swelling, some pets and people who are allergic get itchy.
How to prevent the tropical rat flea from feeding on your pet?
Pet owners who live in urban areas should try to limit the number of places that rats, mice and other rodents can hide. Keep your yard, home and garage free of food trash and garbage, as well as any other potential food source for rodents.
Before you go outdoors, use spray a flea repellent on your pet. Fleas love to hand around in hiking trails and campsites where they lay in ambush to attack warm blooded prey. After returning home from the outdoors, brush your pet using a flea comb. If you find any fleas, take your pet to the veterinarian immediately. Tropical rat fleas are difficult to get rid of once they have taken hold. Excessive scratching, licking, biting and hot spots are some of the most common signs that your pet has a flea infestation.
The easiest way to look for fleas on a cat or dog is to gently separate the fur of your dog with a flea comb and see if there are any dark spots on the surface of the skin. If you do, then your pet has a flea problem. Oriental rat fleas are quite dangerous, but if you maintain a clean home and take the necessary precautions when you go out, you will never have to deal with them.