The surface environment keeps on changing from time to time but cave environments are constant. We have always considered caves as dark and scary places, but it is home to many animals. Man is a social animal but animals are not, sometimes they want to live alone without noise and any company.
Caves are a great place for some animals to live and protect themselves from dangerous predators out there. Caves are the hollow space between mountains, in the ground, etc. They have a high level of humidity, constant temperature, and darkness.
They are many cave-dwelling creatures found across the globe. Their bodies required them to stay in a place like a cave to survive. Many caves have been discovered by scientists in the previous years but a big number of underground caves are yet to be studied. Deep caves have calm ecosystems but there are still dangerous animals that live there.
Some animals live in caves but some seek refuge in them in the winter seasons. They occupy caves on a short-term basis and when the summer arrives they leave the caves. It is difficult for animals to live and survive with little or no food. Some animals have developed talents to survive in a dark and humid environment.
What Animals Live in Caves?
Caves are all over the planet and they provide proper living conditions for many organisms and animals to live there. Here we have the list of some of the animals that live in caves.
Bats are one of the most popular cave animals that we have heard. Bats live and hibernate in colonies in the caves. They can also be found in underground mines and small spaces or cracks on walls trees etc. Bats have long fur that is brown. They grow around 4 inches with a wingspan of 10 inches.
Bats use the echolocation technique to navigate through their neighborhood and find their prey. Caves play an important role in bouncing off their sound which helps them to give information on different sizes and distances of objects near them.
Cave Robber Spider
The cave robber spider is a type of spider usually found in caves. They have claws or hooks on their legs to capture the prey. These spiders can grow up to the size of three inches. They are found in deep caves and have simple webs with few strands. These strands help them to hang from cave roofs. The cave spider specie is mostly found in the southwestern region of Oregon.
Southern crayfish is the type of fish that is usually found in caves. They have a smooth and transparent body with longer antennas than other cave-living creatures. There is a limited food supply in the caves so they can easily adjust to the slower mechanism to save their energy. Southern cave crayfish are known to live in caves for years.
Olm has the appearance of a white dragon-like amphibian and they are usually found in karst caves. Karst caves are made up of rocks like limestone, dolomite, gypsum, etc. Many people believed that these were baby dragons and that their specie evolve from dark, aquatic cave life.
Olm is one of the first troglobites that was discovered. They have a large size of almost one foot. IUCN (international union of conservation of nature) put them on the list of vulnerable species due to the degradation of their home.
Cave swiftlets are found in caves having dark grey color with white feathers. They build their nest in different locations in mountains, cliffs, cave walls, etc. They have adapted to seeing in the dark places in the cave. They can also use echolocation to navigate through the caves and find their food source.
Swiftlet lives in Southeast Asia and is known for building edible nests in China. They are quite territorial and you can find them roaming in the colonies.
Oilbirds are also among those animals that are found in caves and belong to the nightjar family of birds. They are also found in South America and live on different tropical fruits and oil palms. The adult grows from 16 to 19 inches in size with 37-inch wingspans.
Oilbird is nocturnal and uses echolocation to find out about their surroundings and food source.
Creek Cave Snail
Creek cave snails are aquatic species and they live under rocks in caves. They prefer rocks that are near large bat populations. Their food source is the guano (feces) of the bats. You can find them in the habitats of Southern Missouri in different creeks. They are also considered endangered species.
Until 1689, before the discovery of olm, it was considered that caves are not suitable for plants and animals to live. They are found in Slovenia and also exist in the Southern USA. Beetles feed on fungi and bacteria that enter the cave habitat through animal dropping. They adapt to their environment like other troglobitic creatures.
Types of Caves
To understand the living environments and the species living in the caves it is important to know about the types of caves.
- Trogloxenes: Trogloxenes are the temporary cave residents that can freely inside and outside of the cave. They choose this habitat due to their choice and never spend their whole lives in caves.They are not dependent on the cave habitat to live.Some common examples are bats, bears, skunks, moths, etc.
- Troglophiles: These creatures live in the cave but they can also survive outside it. Beetles and cave crickets are the prime example of troglophillic animals that can easily adapt in term of body, and proportions. They can locate food and other animals biochemically.Other examples of troglophiles are earthworms, beetles, cave crickets, frogs, etc.
- Troglobites: They are true cave animals and spend their whole lives in the cave. They prefer to live in a dark zone. They have developed adaptations that can help them survive in the cave atmosphere. They use their sense organs to locate food.
There is no easy way to answer the question about the animals living in a cave. Like ground, there are millions of animals that might live in a cave and haven’t been discovered by scientists yet.
Read Also: What Animals Live In The Mountains?