The olm is a salamander that really loves its ‘spot’

Olms are long-living cave salamanders found in southeastern Europe's Dinaric Alps
olm Olms swim like snakes through the water. (© Wibaimages - Dreamstime.com)


Animal life on Earth is so plentiful that we often take it for granted. Cats, dogs, bees, squirrels, and birds — we're used to seeing them pretty much daily.

But animal life can take some bizarre turns. Take the olm, for instance — this species of cave salamander makes the already odd axolotl look normal by comparison.

This blind, flesh-coloured, aquatic creature is only found in caves under the Dinaric Alps, a mountain range in southeastern Europe in the countries of Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, and Slovenia. It is one of the world's longest-living animals and has a lifespan of about 100 years.

And according to new research, one olm stayed in the same spot for seven years.

Nope, I like it here just fine thanks

Embed from Getty Images

An olm on a rare walk out of the water. (Getty Embed)

Seven years? And it didn't move at all. Okay, that's probably not true. It probably moved a little. After all, the researchers — who tagged and observed 26 adult olms over 2,569 days — weren't checking in on them daily.

But the adult olms were found to have not moved much at all from their original location where they were found. Most stayed within 10 metres (33 feet) of the same area the whole time. And scientists think that this holds a key to their exceptional long life.

What a perfect day to do nothing

Though their food — snails and crustaceans — is rare, olms expend hardly any energy and have a very low metabolism (meaning they burn calories, or food energy, slowly). This foot-long salamander is the largest cave-dwelling animal and has no predators to worry about in its habitat. With no need to run from predators and the ability to survive years without eating, the olm can literally do nothing for months, even years.

When it does move, it uses it highly developed senses of smell and hearing to compensate for its blindness. (After all, sight is useless in the total darkness of the caves).

Weird and wonderful 'dragons'

Yes, we do want an olm stuffie, thanks for asking! (© David Taljat - Dreamstime.com)

This mythic creature deserves its nickname 'baby dragon'. (They were once considered proof that dragons were real!) In fact, olms are so loved in the countries in which they live that they've been made into stuffies and even found their way on to local currency. Slovenia's 10 stotinov coin features one!

All that fame for a life in the dark doing squat. Life IS weird, right?

To help you fall under the dragon's spell, check out this video of olms hatching. Their eggs are so cool!


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