Baby Dragons' First Birthday

Juvenile olms differ from adult olms in that they have visible eye and pigment spots. Photo: Postojna Cave archives

Happy birthday! The first of our baby dragons, who hatched last year, is celebrating – it's its first birthday! On 30 May 2016, we were delighted to find the first hatched baby dragon, exactly 124 days after the first olm egg had been spotted on the glass of Postojna Cave 's aquarium in January 2016. In the subsequent eight weeks, we witnessed the hatching of no fewer than 22 olms for the first time in the history of Postojna Cave. 

The offspring from the subterranean world of Postojna attracted worldwide attention as "the Postojna Cave baby dragons" – based on a legend about dragons and the folk tradition, which had previously been written about by Janez Vajkard Valvasor . The whole world, experts and the general public alike, has since then been able to watch the development of our olm hatchlings in a special cave laboratory, which has won the experts' praise owing to the number of olm hatchlings that survived – there are 21 of them – and their successful development. 


The olm is the only European amphibian that has three digits on its front legs and two digits on its rear legs. Photo: Postojna Cave archives

We have been keeping a close eye on the baby dragons on their journey from eggs, embryos and hatchlings – without fully developed limbs, with large amounts of a lot of yolk and no ability to eat on their own – to juvenile olms, which are now more than seven centimetres long and go after their food like real dragons. A year ago, they might have looked like "dotted juveniles", but these days they are very much like adult olms. Their body and head is elongated, they have three and two digits on their front and rear legs respectively. They are now in their juvenile period, which will last for several years. The only thing that make them different from their parents are their tiny eyes, the pigment, which is slowly disappearing, and their size. They are a miniature version of adult olms and will look much like they do today for the rest of their lives. 

Source: Postojna Cave d. d.