May 052015

It is a pity that when you search at information on a specific species on the Internet, you always step on sites about biodiversity, giving only the scientific name and no information at all on the species… Sometimes very scarce information can be found when the parasite is a vector of specific diseases.


Our today focus is the mouse flea Leptopsylla (Leptopsylla) segnis (Schönherr, 1811) ! In the past, before the invention of this complicated systematic, some authors called it Pulex musculi (obviously the mouse flea !)… But as a matter of fact, we are nor in the Pulicidae family, neither in the Leptopsyllidae… As far as I understand Leptopsylla is now member of the Ceratophyllidae and the former Leptopsyllidae family is considered now as a sub-family (Leptopsyllinae). Am I wrong ? Some authors still consider valid the family of Leptopsyllidae.

Anyway, I consider this mouse flea (can be found also on the rats) as very smart and elegant but, concerning epidemic diseases, it is a known vector of Rickettsia (Rickettsia typhi and Rickettsia felis for example), like Xenopsylla cheopis. By the way, as I am deeply interested in microscopy I noticed that Rickettsia bacterii are Gram negative and can be colored by Giemsa. Will it give something if I put an entire Leptopsylla segnis in Giemsa ? Oups… (maybe it is not worth a try ?)

Another stupid questions, probably without answer : what is the utility of the two spiniform setae on the margin of the cephalic capsule ?

This flea seems to be very well spread, wherever mice are present.

Main caracters :

  • Genal comb made of 4 spines,
  • Pronotal comb made of about 20 spines,
  • Eye vestigial,
  • Frons angular with 2 spiniform setae,
  • Interantennal suture present,
  • In female, bulga about one and a half times longer than hilla.

Synonymy :

  • Pulex segnis, Pulex musculi, Ctenopsylla musculi, Ctenopsylla segnis.

Hosts :

  • Primary host : Mus domesticus, Rattus rattus
  • Secondary host : Mus spretus, Mastomys natalensis, Rattus norvegicus
  • Occasionnal host : Apodemus sylvaticus, Eliomys quercinus, Clethhrionomys glareolus, Pitymys subterraneus, Neomys fodiens, Gerbillus sp, Meriones grandis…

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