So we all know that fleas have the ability to jump over 100 times their own height, but we have always wondered just how this is possible. To think that a creature so small could jumps so high seems almost unbelievable and yet it is very true.
At Cambridge, a study was given to several fleas to study to examine how exactly these bugs can jump so high. These studies proved very useful because through them, researchers were able to find out the secret to this long since, undiscoverable, question.
Fleas are endowed with multi-jointed back legs. Researchers knew that these joints were the enabling process for the fleas’ ability to jump. Now that this had been discovered, it was a question as to “how” the flea pushes off and then jumps. It could not be decided as to whether or not it was from the feet or the knees. Literally hundreds of jump tests were run on hedgehog fleas and the result were quite astonishing.
It was proven that in at least 10 out of 51 jumps, nothing more than the fleas’ toes touched the ground before it pushed off. The ratios for the other jumps are half and half. Half jumped with their knees and the other half used both their knees and their toes to push off. A very interesting note to these jumps is that every single flea, no matter if they jumped from their toes, knees, or both, jumped with the exact same speed every time. The average speed of the fleas’ takeoff is registered at about 3 mph, but they have been known to increase their speed to more than 4 mph.
Now while this study was simply completed on hedgehog fleas, it does not mean that regular fleas, like the ones that are found on dogs or cats, cannot reach the same ability as these specimens.
Although we have learned this much about fleas, there is still a tremendous amount of information to be discovered.