Our Neighborhood's Biodiversity Map

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Shared by : Bharat Adhikari (Nepal)
Habitat : Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Slovenia
Status : Vulnerable (VU)
The olm or proteus (Proteus anguinus) is an aquatic salamander in the family Proteidae, the only exclusively cave-dwelling chordate species found in Europe. In contrast to most amphibians, it is entirely aquatic; it eats, sleeps, and breeds underwater. The olm's body is snakelike, 20-30 cm (8-12 in) long, with some specimens reaching up to 40 centimeters (16 in). Females grow larger than males, but otherwise the primary external difference between the sexes are in the cloaca region (shape and size) when breeding.
The species is long-lived (they are not sexually mature until they are 12 years of age) and reproduce very slowly. Females lay approximately 70 individual eggs on the undersides of aquatic stones; however, in some cases the eggs are retained within the body and two fully formed young are produced.
When food is scarce, it reduces its activity and metabolic rate, and can also reabsorb its own tissues in severe cases. Controlled experiments have shown that an Olm can survive up to 10 years without food.
Freshwater, the species generally occurs in large subterranean aquatic karst systems formed in limestone and dolomite rocks and may be found in cave entrances (especially during episodes of high rainfall and flooding) and abandoned mine workings.
Water pollution, illegal collection.

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