Flea circus

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Flea circus at the Munich Oktoberfest

A flea circus is a fairground attraction where fleas move small carriages or carousels , shoot balls into gates and perform similar tricks. Due to the small size of the animals and the associated stage, an entire flea circus can be accommodated in a suitcase.

Flea circus


Showmen with a flea circus used to be part of the standard program of fairs and festivals. Today there are very few left, u. a. the Birk flea circus , which has existed since the middle of the 19th century and has performed at the Munich Oktoberfest since 1948 . Peter Mathes, who directed the flea circus until 1972, worked on the film The Death of the Flea Circus Director (1973) by Thomas Koerfer . Marco Assmann and his Flea Circus ( Marco Assmann's Floh Circus ) are a regular guest in TV shows and documentaries and should have a large collection of literature, props and memorabilia on the subject.


Since fleas cannot be trained, they have to be divided into so-called jumpers and runners by observation , who then perform the various tricks. The runners are z. B. bound to a carriage. Jumpers are good as goalscorers because they, cleverly placed on a small ball, throw it away when trying to jump.

Dog and cat fleas as well as the females of human or hedgehog fleas are suitable for a flea circus - the males are too small.

“It is well known that there are people who earn their livelihood by training fleas (hooking them to little carts, etc.). By locking the animals up in shallow boxes for a long time, where they bump each other roughly on the head every time they try jumping, they get used to this bad habit, and by putting on one of their arms they always reward everyone with so much blood after the performance than he likes to drink. "


  • Participation in the film "The Death of the Flea Circus Director" by Thomas Koerfer 1973
  • The expression “taming a flea circus” means “supervising a group of lively children” or something similar.


  • L. Bertolotto: The History of the Flea . London undated (approx. 1835).
  • Egon Erwin Kisch: The dramaturgy of the flea theater . In: ders .: Adventure in Prague. Prague, Leipzig, Vienna 1920.
  • Brendan Lehan: The Compleat Flea . London: John Murray, 1969.
  • May R. Berenbaum: Bloodsuckers, Founders of the State, Silk Manufacturers - The ambiguous relationship between humans and insects . Translated from English by Jorunn Wissmann (title of the original edition: Bugs in the System. Insects and Their Impact on Human Affairs ). Elsevier, Munich, 2004, ISBN 3-8274-1519-5
  • Marco Assmann: The story of the flea circus . 2008
  • Eveline Pohl: Flea theater . In: The Cross Section . 1926.
  • Herbert Weidner: Articles and comments on the insect fauna of Lower Franconia. 10. The fleas (Siphonaptera) of Lower Franconia . In: Communications from the Natural Science Museum of the City of Aschaffenburg. NF 13 (1973).

Web links

Commons : Flea circus  - collection of images, videos and audio files