If you've never seen a flea circus, it's only because you haven't been looking closely. But perhaps now you're getting the itch.
Let this video from the British Pathe serve as proof that they're more than your grandmother's fantasy. It was filmed in Paris in 1949, and shows itty-bitty bugs moving miniature objects That's what this big top thrill was all about.
Flea circuses were popular back in the day, and some operators even sought six-legged talent internationally.
A New York flea circus operator Roy Heckler brought some "performers" over from Italy and Spain, according to a 1947 article in the St. Petersburg Times. Naturally, he took care of their trip overseas, dishing out 10 cents per flea.
Their journey to the US wouldn't be all fun and games. They went straight to work.
Heckler said they "fasten wire collars and harness around their necks with tweezers, hitch a small chariot or cannon on and let them run," the Times reports.
The right fleas are easy to train, Pauline Testo told the Reading Eagle in 1963. And she was willing to pay more than the $1.68 per dozen going rate if she found the right talent.
Apparently fleas aren't too fond of cold whether, though. A New Jersey flea circus had to shut down and move to warmer climate after some of its performers lost the battle against chilly temperatures, the Times Daily reported in a 1961.