Fleas are normally associated with cats and dogs, however, they can be found on all sorts of warm blooded animals including rabbits, squirrels, rats, ferrets, mice, chickens and other birds, and, of course, humans. Pets can pick up fleas from other animals or places and bring them in to your home. Once they arrive, you’ll want to get rid of them fast. After feeding, a female cat flea can lay between 25 and 40 eggs a day. A single female cat flea can produce up to 2,000 eggs in a life time.
Adult fleas feed on the blood of these animals and while they lay their eggs on them, the eggs are not sticky and will fall off. The eggs become hidden in gaps between floorboards, carpet and rugs. Their eggs are only about 0.5mm long which makes them almost impossible to find. There are many different types of flea, but the most common in the UK are the cat flea, which also bites humans, the dog flea and the human flea. The human flea is now less common in the UK except for farming areas. Fleas are around 2mm long, dark-coloured insects with no wings and very narrow bodies and can jump a considerable distance in proportion to their size. Fleas are not a major spreader of diseases, although they were responsible for transmitting the bubonic plague, Black Death, from rats to humans.
Common areas to receive flea bites are on feet or lower legs. A flea bite is usually felt immediately. The actual bite does not really hurt. It is the itchiness that causes the discomfort. Infants are at a higher risk from being bitten by fleas, particularly when playing on the floor. You should consult a pharmacist for advice and treatment if you develop an itchy rash or eczema. These are common symptoms of an allergic reaction to flea bites.
If your cat or dog looks to be in some discomfort and is constantly scratching or biting their fur it could be fleas feeding. Inspect your pets coat carefully and also check the hind-quarters of your dog or the head and neck of your cat. These are the areas that are targeted and where you might see signs of flea activity. We advise you to consult your vet if there are any signs of irritation such as reddening of the skin or if there are any thin patches in your pet’s coat.