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Trixie: Flea on a Trapeze

Despite the dynamic nature of Trixie's part in the circus, fleas selected to play Trixie are among the calmest fleas in the circus.  They are often selected by making a loud noise right next to their trailer, and noting which fleas remained unfazed.

(Note: In circuses of the past, the most steadfast of fleas in this experiment were also selected as fleas to stand at attention while the cannon was fired.)

It is important however, to differentiate between fleas which are simply lethargic, and those that are calm of nerve.  (Lethargic fleas will be too inactive and lacking of curiosity to move about on a trapeze bar and cause it's swinging.)

It has delighted audiences and trainers alike to find out that fleas of Trixie's constitution actually ENJOY shifting their weight and moving the trapeze bar.

How the behavior came about naturally, no one knows, but this is one of the few behaviors almost exclusive to the flea species "pulex irratins," or "human fleas" and it has been put forward that this behavior may have actually developed from the fleas association with HUMANS!

On a side note, some sub species of pulex can ONLY survive on human blood, and their legs are adapted to gripping woven clothing!  So, knowing the time of their appearance may tell us when people began wearing clothing!

Though a social flea, Trixie prefers to associate only with selected fleas of her own line.  She has received something of an undeserved reputation for snobbery because of her reluctance to associate with Xenopsylla cheopis (rat fleas) who are often blamed as plague vectors.

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Return to the nest!

All images (C) John Norris & Walt Noon 2005