STA, 13 June 2020 - Baby olms which were hatched at Postojna Cave in 2016 in a rare successful breeding will go on public display for the first time on Saturday. Only thirty visitors per day will be allowed to visit the subterranean aquarium to see what are popularly referred to as baby dragons.
The three olms on public display - named Boris, Počasné and Viktor - are from a brood of 21 offspring that hatched in 2016 when an olm laid 60 eggs in an observation tank, taking scientists by surprise.
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While olm are endemic to the Dinaric karst, living deep in underground caves where little food is available, and have been known to science for centuries, little had been known about their reproduction until then.
When the eggs were hatched, the entire process was therefore closely watched by scientists, but the public has so far not had the chance to see them up-close.
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Olms (Proteus anguinus), the predators of the underground world, are unusual in many respects.
Snake-like and almost translucent, they can grow up to 30 centimetres in length with small short legs with three digits on their forelimbs and two on their hind feet.
They breathe with external gills and rudimentary lungs. Although adult olms have no eyes, they sense their way around the cave with skin receptors.
They can go without food for up to twelve years and have a lifespan of up to 100 years.