Billy the Bullet Shot from a Cannon! April 27, 2017 18:30

Oh man how I love fleas. Don’t get me wrong, if any of the critters turn up with us, my first instinct is to burn the house down and leave the country. However they have been around for one hundred million years, they can jump a hundred and fifty times their own height and they perform in circuses! Come on guys; have you at least a LITTLE grudging respect for them?

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The first record of a flea performance was way back in 1578. It was a way to demonstrate the amazing skills of jewellers and watchmakers and Mark Scalliot first produced a lock and chain tiny enough to use on a flea. From there of course, it wasn’t a huge leap to the giant but miniature world of the actual performing flea circus.

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Professor Louie Bertolotto, famed Italian showman turned it into a phenomenon. His was the hottest ticket in town. He entertained crowds of peasants and Royals in a career spanning fifty years.  Of course they aren’t actually trained fleas. We knew that right? Any self respecting professor (every flea circus ringmaster was known as “professor”) divided his performers into those best at jumping, pulling or kicking, and adjusted their bit of equipment accordingly.

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They were attached to chariots, Ferris wheels, footballs, unicycle, tightropes and much more. One little superstar had his own billing. “Billy the Bullet shot from a Cannon!”

Yet I must inform you there is a downside to owning a flea circus. For instance, read about the time a whole troupe absconded on a passing dog.

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Furthermore, in 2013 in Germany, one of the last ringmasters described himself as having had a “difficult moment” when all 300 of his fleas died of cold. Yup, you read that date right. One of the last remaining flea circuses can still be found at Germany’s Oktoberfest.

So next time you are about to treat the dog, bear in mind what great little performers could be lost to the world forever. There would be no more ‘Lydia the High diver,” or the death defying French Flying Act, or even Rudolph the Racer. Ah well, be it on your own head. Or not. I just cannot stop scratching now.

If you feel the need to wash, do click onwards, this may help!