Information

Wildlife in Italy: Proteus

Wildlife in Italy: Proteus

Systematic classification and distribution

Class: Amphibians
Order: urodeles
Family: proteids
Kind: Proteus
Species: P. anguinus

Proteus is found exclusively in the waters of the Karst system of the Dinaric Alps, from the north east of Italy and from the south of Slovenia through the coastal chain of Croatia to the maritime mountains of western Bosnia (and Montenegro).

Distinctive characters

As an adult it reaches the length of 25-30 cm. It has no evident sexual dimorphism. It has a very elongated white-pink body (apigmented). Smooth skin. Eyes often absent. Large reddish feathery gills. Front legs with three toes, hind legs with two.

Biology

This amphibian feeds very little and survives thanks to the slowness of its metabolism, and the main reason is linked to the habitat in which it lives, which offers very few prey to feed on. Eat tiny crustaceans, and sometimes its own larvae. It lives in caves and in groundwater, usually characterized by a very low temperature (9-12 ° C). It rarely comes out of the water; but, despite being provided with gills, it regularly surfaces on the surface of the groundwater where it lives to breathe oxygen dissolved in the air. In some cases the female gives birth to small live and well-formed proteins, in other cases she lays about 70 eggs.

Proteus (photo http://wdfw.wa.gov)

Proteus (photo http://projeksatudunia.blogspot.it)


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