Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Spilopsyllus cuniculi

Synonym(s): European rabbit flea, S. cuniculi

Contributor(s): David Scarff

Introduction

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Clinical Effects

Epidemiology

Habitat

  • Adult S. cuniculi on rabbits all year round.
  • Breeds in rabbit burrows in late winter and early spring being dependent on the blood of breeding rabbits.

Transmission

  • Dogs and cats that hunt rabbits acquire adult fleas.

Pathological effects

  • Hypersensitivity to its antigens has been demonstrated experimentally but S. cuniculi does not normally seem to be involved in flea allergic dermatitis Skin: flea bite hypersensitivity in hypersensitive dogs.
  • Crusts and papules in the sites where it feeds on the ears.

Other Host Effects

  • A parasite of rabbits and dependant on rabbit blood.
  • Maturation of male and female fleas specifically requires blood from pregnant rabbits or from very young nestlings (1-10 days old).
  • Will feed on the dog and cat but will not breed.

Control

Control via animal

Control via chemotherapies

  • Drugs not specifically tested for S. cuniculi.

Control via environment

  • None - Spilopsyllus cuniculi cannot breed in the environment of the dog/cat in the house but pet rabbits are at risk to infestation and infection with myxomatosis virus carried by the flea.
  • Advise on source of fleas and use of adulticide chemical products to kill adult fleas.

Diagnosis

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from VetMedResource and PubMed.
  • Studdert V P and Arundel J H (1988) Dermatitis of the pinnae of cats in Australia associated with the European rabbit flea (Spilopsyllus cuniculi). Vet Record 123, 624-625 Describes clinical signs.
  • Rothschild M and Ford B (1966) Hormones of the vertebrate host controlling ovarian regression and copulation of the rabbit flea. Nature 211, 261-266.

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