To listen to this article, please select Control + Shift + Z to launch the pop-up player.

Browser out-of-date!

You are using an out-of-date web browser, to avoid problems when using A-Z Animals and other sites we strongly recommend you upgrade to the latest version of your web browser!
Get Firefox Get Google Chrome Get Opera Get Microsoft Internet Explorer Get Apple Safari
Remove Advertising
A-Z Animals - Animal Facts, Images and Resources A-Z Animals - Animal Facts, Images and Resources A-Z Animals - Animal Facts, Images and Resources

Animals >>

Olm


 Add to Phobia Filter  Contribute  Print  Listen
Two olms (Proteus anguinus), in Postojna Cave, Slovenia.
Olm (Proteus anguinus) in its natural habitat.
Olm (Proteus anguinus) in its natural habitat.
The head of the black Olm subspecies (Proteus anguinus parkelj)
Olm (Proteus anguinus) - closeup of the head.
The olm (also known as the proteus or the cave salamander) is a blind amphibian exclusively found in the underwater caves of southern European lakes and rivers. The olm is also known as the human fish, which refers to the colour of it's skin.

The olm is the only species in it's genus and is found inhabiting the waters that flow underground through an extensive limestone region including waters of the Isonzo river basin near Trieste in Italy, through to southern Slovenia, south-western Croatia, and Herzegovina.

The olm is most well known for living it's entire life in the darkness of the underwater caves, which has led this species to adapt quite strangely to life without light. The most notable feature of the olm is the fact that it is blind as it's eyes are not properly developed and instead it must rely on incredible hearing and smell to understand it's surroundings.

In a similar way to the axolotl, the olm does not undergo the drastic transformation from young to adult in the same way that frogs and toads do. The olm is also entirely aquatic, hunting, mating, eating and sleeping in the darkness of the underwater caves.

As with other amphibious animals, the olm is a carnivore meaning that it gets all the nutrition it needs from eating other animals. Small invertebrates are the main source of food for the olm including worms, aquatic insects, larvae and snails.

Due to the fact that the olm lives out it's life in the safety of a dark, underwater cave, it has fewer predators than it would have living both in the water and on land. Fish and other amphibians are the primary predators of the olm along with the very occasional rodent or bird.

The olm does not reach sexual maturity until it is between 10 and 15 years old, and after mating, female olms lay from 5 to 30 eggs in between rocks in the water where she can protect them from hungry predators. Olm tadpoles are less than an inch long when they hatch and take on the appearance of the adult olm by the time they are a few months old.

Today, due to rising levels of water pollution, olm populations are declining meaning that the olm is now considered to be vulnerable to extinction in their native environment.


Olm Comments (4)

Abi

"Love the olm- this page really helps my research! But reading other pages, they said average egg clutches contain 70 eggs, not 10..."

Anonymous

"I love the olms and after gorillas they army second favourite animal. This article is great to learn about the most amazing amphibian in the world. A tiny bit more information is all that's needed. Otherwise, absolutely brilliant."

Lewis Green

"Awesome. This was a great help with schoolwork. Olms are awesome, stop water pollution. SAVE THE OLMS!"

Showing 3 of 4 comments.

Show More Comments

Post Comment

Your Name:

Article Rating:

Your Comment:


Article Tools

Print Article
View printer friendly version of Olm article.
 
Listen to Article
Listen to audio version of Olm article. Hot key: CTRL key + Shift key + Z key

Olm Facts

Kingdom:
Five groups that classify all living things...
Animalia
Phylum:
A group of animals within the animal kingdom...
Chordata
Class:
A group of animals within a pylum...
Amphibia
Order:
A group of animals within a class...
Caudata
Family:
A group of animals within an order...
Proteidae
Genus:
A group of animals within a family...
Proteus
Scientific Name:
Comprised of the genus followed by the species...
Proteus Anguinus
Type:
The animal group that the species belongs to...
Amphibian
Diet:
What kind of foods the animal eats...
Carnivore
Size (L):
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is...
2.5cm - 30cm (0.9in - 12in)
Weight:
The measurement of how heavy the animal is...
2g - 150g (0.07oz - 5.3oz)
Top Speed:
The fastest recorded speed of the animal...
8km/h (5mph)
Life Span:
How long the animal lives for...
10 - 50 years
Lifestyle:
Whether the animal is solitary or sociable...
Solitary
Conservation Status:
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct...
Threatened
Colour:
The colour of the animal's coat or markings...
Pink, White, Peach
Skin Type:
The protective layer of the animal...
Permeable
Favourite Food:Insects
Habitat:
The specific area where the animal lives...
Underground watery caves
Average Clutch Size:
The average number of eggs laif at once...
10
Main Prey:
The food that the animal gains energy from...
Insects, Worms, Snails
Predators:
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal...
Fish, Toads, Birds
Distinctive Features:
Characteristics unique to the animal...
Elongated body and undeveloped limbs

Related Animals

AxolotlAxolotl
Found only in one complex of lakes!
FrogFrog
There are around 5,000 different species!
NewtNewt
Able to regrow lost or damaged limbs!
SalamanderSalamander
There are more than 700 different species!