While fleas were still a pernicious problem for pet owners, control methods are rapidly becoming easier. No longer are those with an infestation told to 'bomb' the entire premises with harsh pesticide chemicals, rather the afflicted pet is treated with modern methods.
Fleas are survivors. Flea fossils have been dated as far back as the Cretaceous, which means that the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex might well have been plagued by the humble flea in the same way our pets are today! Fleas are known to be amazing jumpers and can leap up to 150 times the length of their own body – the equivalent of an Olympic athlete jumping 1000 feet! Fleas can bite up to 400 times a day and a female flea can consume fifteen times her own body weight every day. That same female flea is capable of laying 2000 eggs in her 2 to 3 month life span – incredible breeding powers that making it easy to see why it is so important to prevent her from laying the eggs, rather than try and deal with the resultant flea population.
Dog fleas (ctenophalides canis) are similar to cat fleas (ctenophalides felis), although the latter is somewhat more widespread globally and tends to be found on a wider range of animals. Both types of flea can spread different diseases, although both are capable of spreading tapeworm, a nasty parasite that can affect people too. Fleas can cause pain and suffering in both animals and humans. If left unchecked fleas can actually kill.
The first sign of a flea infestation is sometimes feeling a bite, usually on the ankle region if they have taken hold in the carpet. Your pet may have a number of black specks on their skin or in and around their bedding. Your pet may show signs of being very itchy or uncomfortable. If you are uncertain that the black specks are flea excrement you can test them by placing them on a damp piece of white paper towel or something similar. If they ooze a reddish residue they are flea droppings – the red colouration is caused by the blood on which the fleas live.
If you see the black specks but no human has been bitten your still most likely have an infestation – fleas often prefer animal blood, only biting humans when there is no other option.
- Fleas are a common problem and can spread very quickly by leaping from animal to animal
- An infestation can quickly become a major problem, so it is important to treat it quickly
- Fleas can survive for up to 100 days without a blood meal but females must eat before they can lay eggs