Animals That Live In Caves
Since prehistoric times, various species of animals have chosen to reside in caves. Caves provide protection from predators and shelter from adverse weather conditions.
There is archaeological evidence that shows the various species of animals and prehistoric humans that chose to live in caves.
There are still plenty of animals that still choose to live in caves today. The variety of cave wildlife is fascinating.
If you want to learn more about the different types of animals that live in caves then keep reading. We have put together this helpful guide to give you lots of interesting information.
Cave salamanders are troglobites that thrive in cave environments.
A troglobite is a type of animal that is so well adapted to cave dwelling that they would struggle to live in any other environment. This is a category of salamander that includes several different species.
They have developed various features to help them adapt and survive. The Olm is a species of Salamander that lives in Southeast Europe that is entirely blind and looks very similar to a snake.
The Texas Blind Salamander has more of a typical salamander appearance and lives in the caves in Texas.
Cave beetles are a good example of a Troglophile – they spend a lot or all of their life inside a cave environment, but they could still survive outside of a cave.
Cave beetles are largely found in China. They are very small – less than half an inch long – with an elongated head and prothorax. They are very well adapted to living in dark conditions.
Northern Cave Bat
When you think of an animal that lives in a cave, a bat might be the first thing that comes to mind. The Northern cave bat is found in large numbers in Australia and feeds mostly on insects.
They are quite small, with grayish brown fur, and have exceptional flying skills. They feed mainly on insects, and use their agility to catch them during flight.
These bats tend to live in the entrances of caves rather than deep inside.
The cave bear is a n extinct per-historic species. It was similar in size to the largest brown bears, but with a dome shaped head.
Unlike brown bears, they ate a largely herbivorous diet as indicated by the fossils left behind.
Nowadays, bears still live in caves for a portion of the year when they go into hibernation, but they spend the rest of the year above ground.
Cave fish is a category used to describe different species of fish that live in bodies of water inside cave systems. A lot of cave fish are blind, and some of them don’t even have eyes.
This is because there is little to no light deep in the caves, so eyes are not needed. The fish find their food through other means – such as vibrations in the water.
Interestingly, deep sea fish have not evolved in the same way- they still have their eyes even though no sunlight penetrates the sea below 1000 meters.
This is due to the bioluminescence which is present in the deep sea but not in cave systems.
Kitum Cave Elephants
Elephants are not the type of animals that you would expect to find in a cave, mainly because of their size.
However, there is one group of elephants in Western Kenya that go into the Kitum caves to mine for salt.
The caves are found in the Mount Elgon region, and tusk marks can be found in the caves as deep as 150 meters inside.
The elephants use their tusks to chip off parts of the cave walls and chew them to get the nutrients from the salt.
Cave Wolf Spider
This species of spider is known as the ‘blind wolf spider’ and it is incredibly rare. Due to the dark cave environment that these spiders live in, they do not have any eyesight.
This endangered species lives off cave amphipods – cave crustaceans.
They are very sensitive to chemicals and anything that does not belong in a natural cave environment, so their numbers have dwindled due to human interference in cave systems.
When humans use caves to have parties or social gatherings, the nicotine from cigarettes poisons the spiders and kills them.
The litter left behind attracts insects and animals that wouldn’t usually enter the cave, upsetting the delicate balance of the cave ecosystem.
Tumbling creek cave snail is a species of aquatic cave snail that lives to stay tucked away on the underside of rocks. They feed off bat feces for most of their nutrition along with guano biofilm.
They are now considered an endangered species as water pollution has reduced their numbers.
They are found in southern Missouri, and locals are now doing what they can to preserve the remaining population of tumbling creek cave snails.
Cave crayfish can be found in aquatic caves all over the world, but their largest populations are in Southeastern United states such as Florida and Alabama.
There is a limited supply of food in the caves, so these crayfish have adapted by developing a much slower metabolism which helps them to preserve energy.
They don’t have the same pigmentation as other crayfish which makes them white in color. They have also developed longer antennae to help them feel their way through the darkness.
They do not have any eyesight as the cave systems are so dark it is not necessary.
There are lots of different species of animals that will use caves for temporary shelter. This could be to help them hide from a predator, or to avoid a storm or particularly bad weather.
Some of these animals include rats, raccoons, foxes, and birds.
Caves have very well balanced and sensitive ecosystems which can be easily disturbed by outside influences.
The animals that live in caves have adapted to the environment by developing characteristics and features that are well suited to cave conditions.