Attack of the Killer Fleas from Hell

I had the weekend planned. Really I did. Saturday I was going to Detroit for their giant monster film festival to see the original Godzilla on the big screen. Sunday was a lazy day of catching up on movies and games, along with getting a new grill.

As you can probably assume, I’m not writing this because all of that happened.

The story requires a bit of backtracking. About a week earlier, our dipshit neighbor decided to take in two stray cats. That’s nothing special, and I applaud anyone to do the same. What turned this into a dipshit incident is that the cats were full of fleas. They were so loaded, she didn’t let them in her house until she found the time to get them to the vet. Instead, she left them outside in an enclosed patio.

Since we were oblivious to the cat problems, we decided to let our two ferrets outside in their play gate and let them do their thing. Well, there is no ferret flea prevention product on the market, so out go the ferrets, and in come the fleas.

It took nearly five days to find the problem. Had the ferret not slept awkwardly in the hammock (which is normal for him), I never would have seen deep enough into the fur to catch the movement of these bastards. So, late on a Friday night, it’s off to the pet store… or actually Meijer’s because the damn pet store is closed at 9 PM.

Our goal wasn’t to eliminate the problem, but give the ferrets some relief until we could get them to the vet. Their skin was literally beat red. We bought some powder which for the record, didn’t do anything. The next day, they were just as bad.

Since we’ve come to learn the ferret vet takes Saturday’s off, we needed to fight this one ourselves for the time being. The problem is, after researching this for some time, is where the hell do you start? In 27 years of owning animals, from just about ever species and type you can have, I’ve NEVER so much as seen a flea, let along fight an infestation so bad that when walking on the carpet, you’re socks start to pick them up.

See, these fuckers are durable. Like the whole cockroach “survive a nuke” durable. The worst part is, you have no way to tell how far the infestation has spread, and treating it could lead to making the whole thing worse. If you treat the animal first, the fleas return. If you treat the environment first, they jump to the ferret. You can’t put the animal in another room for fear of infesting that (assuming they haven’t already), and tossing them outside will only restart the process.

We head to the pet store and come home with $80 worth of poison products. For future reference, the “bombs” that spread poison everywhere are useless. Thankfully, we researched those before buying them. Fleas like dark corners, and the bombs don’t make it back there. We sanitize a separate room, use a small dose of liquid kitten flea medicine to rid the ferrets of the problem, and use a secondary cage we thankfully kept around with boiled (really) bedding.

With the ferrets taken care of, we begin working on the problem area, which honestly, could not have been a worse spot for this to happen: my game room. EVERYTHING had to come out, away from the walls, be swept, sprayed, and repeated. The chairs needed to be doused in the poison spray as did the blankets the dogs usually sleep on when they’re down there with me. Thank god the dogs have Frontline and they’re in the clear of this mess.

Of course, when it comes to these bastard blood suckers, nothing is ever easy. Their eggs can live up to a year, completely dormant. Females lay 50 eggs a day. Assuming you have 50 females (which is conservative) that’s 7,000 new fleas ready to go in a week if my math is right. You can never be sure you’ve got them all, but you can control this for the most part. Vacuuming is critical, and once an area is done, immediately remove the bag and either seal it in an air tight bag or if possible, burn it. Seriously.

Fleas know to hatch by vibrations. Once sucked up, they begin hatching in the sweeper bag. If you don’t remove it, the larvae will find a way out. If you remove it and let it sit, you have the same issue. Worst case, if you remove the bag and drop it, you’ve just spread the eggs everywhere. The same goes for picking up blankets. Be careful when moving these. Shaking them out or carrying them a long distances causes the eggs to fall off restarting the process.

Anyway, six hours later, multiple sprays and sweepings are completed. We move everything back and according to the label, we need to re-do this in three months to prevent any of the hatchlings from sprouting.

Of course, this saga is far from over. If you remember, we doused the ferrets in flea medicine. Logically, we kept this away from their face, only to see a few hours later that the fucking fleas had moved to the ferrets faces. They were covered in their new home, and now we have a second room likely infested. Sunday, all we could do was fight little by little. We caught as many as possible with a flea comb about every hour, and set up a makeshift trap we read about online involving a bright light and a bowl of water which proceeded not to work.

Monday, it’s finally vet time. Melvin, our oldest ferret, was dehydrated and almost anemic. They still had to fight the fleas though, and they gave them a very specific dose of a prescription kitten flea killer. She made it very clear that this was not FDA approved as of yet, but it’s the only thing they can give them. That’s great, really. Makes the whole visit reassuring, though made slightly more comfortable by the hot vet tech.

Ahem.

So, we take them home and can already see some dead fleas in their carrier. Thank god. Of course, we now have to treat the car, but that’s easy enough to spray. We re-clean everything in the cage, treat the room quickly, the get them back in there. A few hours later, we notice Melvin isn’t doing well. He listless and acting out of character. This is the point in the weekend where you laugh even though the situation could be tragic. How much worse can this get?

Thankfully, not much. We rushed him back the vet (minus hot vet tech who apparently left already) who gave him a once over and he was fine. It was stress from everything that’s happened and we were told to simply let him sleep it off. Granted, this whole process (including the pet store products) ran us over $350, but it looks like were in the clear.

Since fleas aren’t too found of humans even though they will bite, any stragglers will die off from not being able to find a host. The dogs are covered for three months, as are the ferrets. The stuff we sprayed also takes care of the eggs when they hatch. Nothing (legal) can actually penetrate the eggs to kill the larvae. The poison simply prevents them from reaching adult hood as we’re told. We’re still going to repeat this process in a few months in terms of the carpeting to be absolutely sure. As for now, the battle is over. We have conquered. We have survived the Weekend of the Flea.

Comments (1)

Come on, tell me that you sent Nimrod Neighbor the bill.

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