NPO Blogs

The latest news and information on startups

All the fun of the Flea Circus.

One of the oldest mechanical attractions in the world is the Flea Circus. But I’ve just given the game away by telling you how it works so that means I should reconsider that job as a showman. Fleas are tiny microscopic creatures that like to live in your carpet rather than perform in a theatrical setting and to be honest it would be surprising if they did take up show busy as a living. Fleas are harmless in terms of disease, but they can be an annoyance especially to any four-legged friends that live in the house. They do need to be removed and a Cheltenham Carpet Cleaning Company like the one at can provide that service for you. They can’t catch all the Fleas and re-locate them to a ready-made circus though. What was the point of the Flea circus as an attraction?

Image Credit

If you had gone along to any Victorian market or Fair along with the usual stalls selling food and clothing and household wares there would have been a few attractions on the side. These would have been things like Strongmen and Sword swallowers performing minor circus skills to advertise a bigger show. The Flea circus was there but it’s main aim was to advertise the work of a skilled watchmaker. The Flea circus was in fact an intricate piece of mechanical work that required a huge understanding in the art of clockworks. There was not Fleas at all, sorry to disappoint you. The Circus would feature a few repeated actions like a small umbrella going along a tight rope or a ball going around the circus ring. Outside the would-be Ferris Wheel going, dodgems on a set path and a merry go round as the Fleas enjoyed some leisure time. To further the illusion of the fleas taking part one watchmaker made and illustrated a small lock and key chain that he had made to keep some of the more rebellious Fleas in check. It was all a design to show the small scale that they could work to and that the watch, if given over was in very safe hands. The popularity of the Flea circus remained, and it was revived by the comedian Michael Bentine in the 1960’s where he featured it prominently on his show. “Look at that!” he would yell as one of the Fleas performed a task all actually done by special effects.

Image Credit

There was an actual case where Fleas were employed to play instruments. In reality the Fleas were glued to a metal plate and tiny instruments stuck down next to them. The plate was heated, and the Fleas then moved around in an attempt to escape completing the illusion that they were playing the instruments. Not the most ethical practice but still very effective.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.