Fleas have an incredibly fast jumping ability, and they can jump 50 to 100 times their height. Their incredibly small size allows them to easily slip through your fur and jump with a great amount of agility. Despite the high jumping capabilities of fleas, you may wonder why they prefer to stay on your pet rather than walk around your house.
Scientists have been puzzled about the mechanisms behind flea jumping for many years, but new research from the University of Cambridge has put the mystery to rest. They have discovered that fleas store energy in a protein called resilin, which then transfers energy through the flea’s toes and shins. The scientists believe that this is why fleas can jump such distances with only a single spring.
Fleas use a resilin pad, which extends and contracts when the flea pushes off. The protein allows fleas to exert 100 times more force than muscle alone, and is responsible for their ability to catapult themselves off of surfaces in record time.
Scientists have studied the jump abilities of fleas for many years, and the records vary from species to species. Some types of fleas can jump about 100 millimeters (about three feet), while other types are much smaller. One South African specimen, Spike, was once recorded jumping four inches (10cm) from one end of his cage to the other.