The undisputed star among Postojna Cave's inhabitants is the olm, Proteus anguinus, however, the Karst underground world is inhabited by numerous other interesting inhabitants. According to explorers' estimates, Postojna Cave is home to more than 150 animal species. You can get to know some of the most interesting ones in more detail at Vivarium Proteus.
Postojna Cave is the cradle of a special branch of biology – speleobiology. This new science was born in 1831, when the slenderneck beetle (Leptodirus hochenwarti) was discovered in the cave by Luka Čeč, a local of Postojna. Not long after, explorers discovered and inventoried tens of new animal species that are adapted to the conditions inside the cave to such an extent that they are unable to survive outside of it.
Vivarium Proteus is situated inside the Passage of New Signatures, 50 metres from the entrance to Postojna Cave. It consists of two sections, namely a research section and an exhibition area. The research section, the so-called laboratory, is used for scientific work and research. The speleobiological exhibition housed within the exhibition section introduces visitors to the basic concepts of karstology and speleobiology in an appealing way, and presents special features of the subterranean environment and the most typical representatives of Slovenian cave-dwelling animals. However, most attention is devoted to the olm.
The Olm (Proteus anguinus)
With its length of 25 to 30 centimetres, the olm is the largest cave-dwelling animal and the only vertebrate in Europe that lives exclusively in subterranean areas. It is extremely well-adapted to life in darkness; its skin lacks any protective pigmentation, and the blood showing through it makes it very pale and slightly pink in colour. The resemblance in colour to that of white-skinned humans is the reason why the olm is in some languages referred to as the human fish. Its eyes are undeveloped.
It breathes with external gills, as well as with rudimentary lungs and the skin. It has an inner ear, which serves both the purposes of balance and hearing. It has two pairs of tiny legs, which are relatively far apart. Its front legs have three digits and the rear ones have two. Its tail surrounded by a thin fin makes it possible for the olm to swim.
It feeds on small crabs, worms, snails and other aquatic non-vertebrates. It has a life expectancy of up to 100 years and can survive without food for several years. It is reproduced by means of eggs, which females lay on the bottom side of flat stones.
In Slovenia, the olm is under strict legal protection and has, since 1982, been listed as a rare and endangered species. It is forbidden to catch the olm without a special consent given by the competent environmental authorities.
Vivarium Proteus opening times depend on Postojna Cave tour times. The Vivarium opens half an hour before the first scheduled Postojna Cave tour and closes half an hour after the last tour.
Ticket Price List
The price is per person. The ticket includes admission to the exhibition Butterflies of the World.
|Pupils, students||7,10 €|
|Children aged 15 or less||5,30 €|
|Children aged 5 or less||1,00 €|
Prices are inclusive of basic accident insurance.