Dec 012015
 

Hello world, here is a male of Spilopsyllus cuniculi, which is simply the flea of the rabbit ! This flea is belonging to the family of Pulicidae. As other Siphonaptera, it is an ectoparasite generally found in the animal fur. One can find many information on the net on this species, but few photos for precise identification.

Spilopsyllus cuniculi (Dale, 1878) is belonging to the sub-family of Spilopsyllinae : Pulicidae with symetrical antennae.

Anatomy

  • This species has a caracteristic frontal tubercle on the frons.
  • The genal comb has 4-6 blunt spines.
  • The pronotal comb has 12-17 spines.

The types of the species are probably lost.

 

Synonyms for the species

  • Pulex cuniculi
  • Pulex goniocephalus
  • Ceratophyllus leporis

Hosts

  • Main hosts : Oryctolagus cuniculus (rabbit)
  • Secondary host : Lepus europaeus (hare)
  • Occasionnal host : Vulpes vulpes, Felix catus, Canis familiaris, Lepus hibernicus, Apodemus sylvaticus, Clethrionomys glareolus, Arvicola terrestris, Lutra lutra, Martes foina, Martes martes, Mustela nivalis, Mustela putorius, Meles meles, Ratus norvegicus, Sus scrofa, Homo sapiens…

As mentionned, Spilopsyllus cuniculi has been found occasionnally on a very wide variety of hosts. It is also observed on certain seabirds that nest in burrows.

Distribution

  • As it is the primary host of the rabbit, its distribution follows distribution of it (Oryctolagus cuniculus). For this reason this flea is found worldwide.
  • Oryctolagus cuniculus may have been introduced in its domestic form and thus non parasitised in some parts of the world (Islands…).

Diseases

  • Rabbit flea is a vector of myxomatosis and Trypanosoma nabiasi.
  • Spilopsyllus cuniculi is also parasitised with several species of Tylenchida (an order of Nematodes). Tylenchida are then parasites of parasite…

Have you ever heard about this nursery rhyme which illustrates pretty well the parasite of parasite ?

Big fleas have little fleas, Upon their backs to bite ’em,

And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so, ad infinitum…

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