Rare Cave Salamander Stayed Still For Seven Whole Years

by : Julia Banim on : 06 Feb 2020 17:19
Rare Cave Salamander Stayed Still For Seven Whole YearsRare Cave Salamander Stayed Still For Seven Whole YearsGetty

Sometimes I genuinely think I would be happy staying completely still for an entire Saturday, so long as there was a plate of biscuits within touching distance.


However, my lazy weekends have nothing on the ‘not today’ attitude of the olm, a rare cave-dwelling salamander native to Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is more than happy to park its posterior for years at a time.

Scientists have now gained fresh insight into the day-to-day lives of olms. And – spoiler alert – it wouldn’t exactly make for great reality telly.


Scientists made several dives to an underwater cave in an eastern Herzegovinian region between 2010 and 2018, during which time they tracked 19 salamanders.


The team of researchers, led by Dr Gergely Balázs from Eötvös Loránd University, tagged each olm with harmless ink and examined how far they had moved during the eight years. It emerged that they weren’t exactly the most daring of explorers.

According to results published in the Journal of Zoology, most olms were found to have moved less than 33 ft (10m) during this lengthy time period, with approximately 16ft (5m) being the norm.

But the most bone idle was one unnamed olm who hadn’t even bothered to shift his arse for seven full years.

Just imagine how far you’ve travelled in the past eight years. Even I – who this morning set no fewer than nine alarms before wrenching myself out of bed – have no doubt journeyed at least 40ft.

It’s unclear exactly how they whiled away the long, watery hours, or if they had access to Netflix inside the cave.

Olms reportedly only get a wiggle on in order to mate, which – like many a lazy human – they do approximately once every 12.5 years.

Dr Balázs told The New Scientist:


They are hanging around, doing almost nothing.

SalamanderSalamanderJavier Ábalos/Flickr

Going forward, the research team hopes this study will help to track the human impact on aquatic cave ecosystems:

The low reproductive activity of the species together with the reported extreme site fidelity makes this top predator of aquatic cave communities highly vulnerable and a sensitive bio‐indicator of habitat‐changing human activities.

It’s thought these sightless, slippery creatures stay still to conserve energy, and to be honest it’s kind of working for them.

Despite not leading the most storied of lives, olms certainly stick around for a long time. The average life expectancy is around 70, with a maximum lifespan of more than 100 years.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Animals, Bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cave Salamander, Eötvös Loránd University, Herzegovina, Olm, Zoology


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