The Postojna Cave is in Slovenia and is a karst cave formed by drops of water for over millions of years and has a deep secret since 2016. Hidden deeply away in a subterranean lab, a team of scientists has been raising a clutch of baby dragons that are now four years old since the first hatched. Three will be going on display for everyone to see.
In reality, these baby dragons are actually OIms which are ancient aquatic salamanders that breed only once a decade and can live to 100 years old. These little creatures were first described in 1689 by naturalist Valvasor who wrote in his book “Glory of the Duchy of Carniola” that due to heavy rains, Olms would wash up from the underground water systems. It was believed these sweet creatures were dragons’ offspring swept out from the cave.
These little dragon-like creatures are incredibly rare though in 2016 an Olm laid around 60 eggs in the observation tank, giving cave authorities the opportunity to protect and study them.
Out of the 21 eggs that survived, three will star in an observation tank which will be open to visitors at the Postojna Cave. These precious residents have been kept out of sight in their labs but soon a limited number of 30 visitors will be permitted to visit the baby dragons each day as the cave opens to the public.
Little is known of Olm breeding in the wild but data indicates that out of the hundreds of eggs that are laid in a female’s lifetime only two will reach adulthood. The team at Postojna was somewhat apprehensive as to how their clutch would fare. It was somewhat frightening because they know something unique was happening and it’s up to them how everything would turn out. They had a huge responsibility as changes took place in the cave but also something they were looking for over the centuries.
Like other cave-dwelling animals, Olms are totally blind, slender, and almost translucent in appearance. They will grow legs slowly as they develop. There is a really adorable video on the cave lab’s website showing a proud moment when one of the Olms named Victor sprouted a new leg. They are a protected species found mostly in Balkan cave rivers and are believed to have been residents in the Postojna Cave for millions of years.
The Postojna Cave has been closed to visitors for the past three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the baby dragons debut will be a fitting celebration for the reopening of this incredible site filled with natural beauty.