Olm facts and data. Know Olm food plan, habitat, behaviour taxonomy, and so forth See fascinating facts of Olm in our animal facts archive.
Scientific identify: Proteus anguinus
What does it appear like? A totally grown olm is round 30 cm with a sinuous physique and lengthy tail. There are two pairs of stumpy legs and three pairs of feathery gills behind the top. In its pure surroundings, the olm is pink with semitranslucent pores and skin.
Where does it stay? The recognized vary of the olm is tiny. It is just discovered within the Dinaric Alps, which kind a part of the Adriatic coast in Europe, stretching by Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. It inhabits the numerous elaborate cave techniques of this area.
The peaks and crags of the Dinaric Alps present a mountainous backdrop to the Adriatic Coast. Composed of limestone-containing rocks, these mountains have lengthy been on the mercy of the weather. Over tens of millions of years, rainwater, with its barely acidic chunk, has eaten into them, forming a honeycomb of tunnels and galleries. It is within the perpetually darkish, subterranean roots of these mountains that you simply discover the olm.
Just how lengthy these anomalous amphibians have developed at the hours of darkness, chilly waters of these caves is unknown, however they definitely characterize one of many extra historic teams of salamanders, and over the eons they’ve turn into beautifully tailored to a troglodyte existence.
The physique of the olm has been molded by its surroundings. Its physique is lengthy and snakelike, enabling it to swim by the water with sleek undulations. The quick forelimbs and hind limbs of the animal look as if they’re within the mistaken place. They are to date aside that they’re of little use for strolling. A troglodyte has no want for the pores and skin pigments, resembling melanin, which defend the fragile, outer overlaying of an animal from the unforgiving ultraviolet rays emitted by the solar.
The olm is fully pink, and beneath the skinny pores and skin, the capillaries and the define of the organs could be seen. Where there is no such thing as a mild, there’s additionally no want for eyes, and the olm has nearly misplaced these organs fully. The eyes are very small and poorly developed and sit beneath a layer of pores and skin. It is just within the fetal olm that the eyes could be clearly seen.
Food in these subterranean habitats is scarce, and with no mild or certainly eyes with which to discover its prey, the carnivorous olm should slip by the waters of its ﬂooded caves within the hope of detecting the water-borne scent of small crustaceans or different invertebrates that make up the majority of its food plan. As food is so hardly ever encountered, the olm is in a position to go for lengthy intervals of time with out consuming a single morsel.
The temperature in these caves is cool and fixed, permitting the animal’s metabolism to tick over at a really sluggish price. There is a documented case of a captive olm being saved in a container in a fridge for 12 years with out a single merchandise of food passing its lips. Needless to say, this lengthy interval of enforced hunger took its toll on the animal. It had misplaced plenty of weight, and to hold itself alive, it had digested a few of its personal inner organs, together with its intestine. Even within the wild, it is vitally seemingly that these animals can go for a number of years with out food.