Types of Fleas


There are basically 5 different types of fleas that exist in this world and each differ by the host that they live on.

As such, we have the cat flea, dog flea, rat flea, hen flea and lastly the human flea. Of these, the most commonly seen is the cat flea.

All fleas are wingless, bloodsucking parasites. Most are small and have flattened bodies, which helps them to move among the hair of their host. Most have tiny or no eyes, short antennae and their entire body is covered with a series of bristles and combs which help them to cling on to their host. Fleas have no wings, but they get around pretty well by jumping with their powerful legs.


Picture of Flea

Fleas are somewhat difficult to see due to their size. Here are a few pictures of fleas under a microscope at 10-50 times enlargement.


picture of a flea     Types of fleas     cat flea picture


How many types of fleas are there?

There is an estimated 2,500 species of fleas existing in this world and each of these are specific to the animals it lives on. For example, there is the chicken fleas which reside mainly in chickens, the cat fleas are found mostly on cats but they could also infest dogs as well, the rat fleas on rats and the human fleas on humain like ourselves.

Of all these different types of fleas, the dominant one and the one creating the most problem is the cat flea. The cat fleas are found in both cats and dogs and this is the one that pet owners have to deal with all the time. The cat flea also is capable of infesting and feeding on a range of domesticated animals. Common hosts include chickens and livestock, especially calves and pigs.

Chicken fleas, as mentioned, live on chickens but they too can live on humans as well. People who are in constant contact with chicken tend to be the ones affected most. Humans serve as only a temporary host for these fleas. They are small and black in color.

Then there are the Oriental rat fleas.  The oriental rat flea is most infamous for contributing to the Black Death. The Oriental rat flea has no genal or ponotal combs. This characteristic can be used to differentiate the oriental rat flea from the cat flea, dog flea and other types of fleas. These fleas are common in American in towns and cities located along the coast and rivers.  They live on rats, raccoons, opossums and other animals.

There are also the human fleas which tend to infest the hairy areas like your head and arm pits. However, this type of fleas are not very common anymore because of our better hygiene and cleaning habits.

Sand fleas are usually found in the sand.  Sand fleas do bite holiday makers and dog walkers that frequent the beach (usually around the ankles or on the legs) and their bites are often very itchy and leave raised red bumps/lesions. Here is a picture showing sand fleas bites on a human leg:

sand fleas bites


Sand fleas do not look like other fleas but instead they could blend in with the color of the sands making it difficult to spot them. They feed on organic and dying plants. They like seaweed that washes up on the each.  These fleas can be found anywhere there is sand.

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