The olm, or proteus is a rather unique creature that lives in caverns and subterranean habitats. Due to its popularity as a pet and the pollution of the water where it lives, the future existence of the olm is in danger.
Body length: 20 to 30 cm
(Source: Doubutsu Sekai-isan* Red Data Animals Kodansha) (*World Animal Heritage)
The olm lives in subterranean and cave water on the western Balkan Peninsula and in northeastern Italy.
It eats insects, snails, small crabs and other creatures.
A long thin body and short legs have caused the olm to be mistaken for a baby dragon through history. The olm lives a very long life, with records of some living longer than 100 years.
A unique creature, adapted to cavern life
The olm is a unique creature. It lives in subterranean water in caves, in a dark world where few other creatures live. It is said that to adapt to such an environment where there is little food, an olm can live for more than 10 years without eating! Though the olm can see when it is born, its dark environment causes its eyes to remain undeveloped, causing it to become blind.
Captured as pets, its habitat is becoming polluted
One reason the number of olms is diminishing is because they are being captured by humans. Many people want to have a unique creature as a pet or specimen. Also, the water where the olm lives is becoming polluted by factory waste water, agricultural chemicals, and other contaminants. Though dark world where the olm has chosen to live has meager food sources, it is also one where there are few natural enemies. If the situation remains unchanged, it will be humans who will be responsible for its extinction.
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