GUARD THE EGGS

A new generation of baby “dragons” is about to hatch in Slovenia

Right this very minute, a tiny blind dragon in a Slovenian cave is watchfully guarding her eggs, snapping at anyone who comes too close.

An olm.
An olm. (Wikimedia/Arne Hodalič)

While technically an amphibian, the pink, eyeless, cave-dwelling olm bears a charming resemblance to a miniature fairy tale creature. And now that an olm in Slovenia’s Postojna Cave has laid eggs, scientists have the first-ever opportunity to watch the animal nicknamed the “baby dragon” breed in the wild.

Olms can live up to 100 years and survive as long as a decade without eating. The blind animal hunts using its senses of smell and sound. They dwell exclusively in caves, making it difficult for scientists to witness reproduction.

Another olm.
Another olm. (Wikimedia/Arne Hodalič)

A guide in tourist-friendly Postojna Cave spotted the eggs in late January. They are expected to hatch at some time in June. Olm-watchers have experienced heartbreak in this cave before—the last observed eggs in 2013 were almost immediately eaten by other olms. This time, scientists have isolated the expectant mother and her eggs in their own tank.

“We did all that is in our power,” biologist Saso Weldt told reporters. “Now we wait.”

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