Caves….Teeming With Life

By  | November 8, 2018 | Filed under: Interesting Facts, News

cave-biology-zones-2 Cave Creatures…they are more than just bats living in caves.  There are various groups in the animal kingdom living in caves.   Mammals, fish and crustaceans call caves their home.

Many animals use cave entrances as shelters for sleeping, hibernation, safety and reproduction but are not true cave dwellers. The animals that only use the area of a cave near the entrance can be referred to as troglophiles.  Troglophiles include many mammals…Foxes, wolves raccoons and bears are a few.  Included in animals that use the cave entrance for shelter are cave crickets, moths beetles and cave spiders.scorpion-2

Reptiles such as salamanders, frogs and snakes can be found near cave entrances escaping the heat as well birds such as swifts, swallows, owls and vultures sometimes use cave entrances for nesting.

An animal that only lives in caves and does not venture out is called a troglobiont or stygobiont for A_live_individual_of_Zospeum_tholussumaquatic species but they are both usually referred to as troglobites. True troglobites often have physical adaptations to cave life such as reduced or no vision, elongated appendages and loss of pigment (no color). For example…Snails that live in caves often have thin white shells and smaller eyes…Blind cave fish often have no eyes at all and no color…The Kauai Cave Wolf Spider also has no eyes.

Bats are not true troglobites because they only use caves for sleep and reproduction.  bat120115

Salamanders are common in the southern USA, . The troglobiontic species are all lungless and breath with gills.  A very interesting animal, similar to a salamander and sometimes called a “white salamander” is Proteus anguinus or “Human Fish”.

Alabama cave shrimpCrustaceans, including crabs, shrimp and crayfish are often the largest animals in a cave. But even then, the endangered Alabama cave shrimp is less than an inch long.

 

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