Other Amphibian of the Week

Olm (Proteus anguinus)

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photo by Arne Hodalič

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Common Name: Olm
Scientific Name: Proteus anguinus
Family: Proteidae
Location: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, and Slovenia
Introduced: France.
Size: 11.8 inches max or 30 cms

The Olm is a bizarre creature that lurks under the surface of the Balkans. This weird salamander is found in underground caves and rivers and because of that, most of what is known about the it is from captive bred individuals in labs. The Olm is thought to be the longest living salamander and amphibian, capable of living over a hundred years.

The Olm is a highly adapted to life under ground. Their eyes are highly reduced but other senses are increased, kinda like Daredevil. They find their pray by any means including smell, taste, and sound through the dark underground world.

It takes the Olm nearly 14 years to reach sexual maturity. After reaching sexual maturity, males start to defend their territory from other males. The females of the species will come into the male’s territory and the male starts to court the female. The male waves his tail in her face. After mating, the female goes off and finds a place to lay her eggs. After laying the eggs, the females protect them from predators.

There is one subspecies of olm. It is called the Black Olm (Proteus anguinus parkelj). Besides the fact that they are black, there are other differences between the two. The Black Olm has developed eyes compared to the regular one. It also has a smaller head and is found in Slovenia.

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Black Olm by Arne Hodalič
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