During 1998–2000, at least 14 species (n = 309) of small mammals were live-trapped and examined for ectoparasites in moist forests of the Taita and Shimba Hills and drier savannah habitats of Nguruman, southeastern Kenya. Ectoparasites were recorded from 11 species of mammals. Five species of sucking lice [Hoplopleura inexpectans Johnson, H. intermedia Kellogg & Ferris, Polyplax reclinata (Nitzsch), P. waterstoni Bedford and Schizophthirus graphiuri Ferris], six species of fleas (Ctenophthalmus leptodactylous Hubbard, Dinopsyllus grypurus Jordan & Rothschild, D. lypusus Jordan & Rothschild, Hypsophthalmus campestris Jordan & Rothschild, Listropsylla basilewskyi Smit and Xiphiopsylla lippa Jordan) and at least six species of ticks (Amblyomma sp., Haemaphysalis sp., Ixodes sp., I. alluaudi Neumann, I. cumulatimpunctatus Schulze, I. muniensis Arthur & Burrow and Rhipicephalus sp.) were recorded from these hosts. Four of the five species of sucking lice were host specific whereas P. reclinata was recorded from two different species of white-toothed shrews, Crocidura spp. Although fleas and ticks were less host specific, C. leptodactylous, D. grypurus and I. cumulatimpunctatus were only recorded from the murid rodent Praomys delectorum (Thomas), Amblyomma sp. was only recorded from the nesomyid rodent Beamys hindei Thomas, Rhipicephalus sp. was only recorded from the murid Lemniscomys striatus (L.) and I. muniensis was only recorded from the dormouse Graphiurus microtis (Noack). More species of ectoparasites and significantly greater infestation prevalences were recorded from small mammals in moist habitats compared with those from the savannah habitat. At least one of the fleas recorded, D. lypusus, is a known vector of Yersinia pestis Lehmann & Neumann, the causative agent of plague, which is present in the region.