10 Cave-Dwelling Creatures & Their Unique Characteristics

From bats to blind fish, here are 10 cave-dwelling creatures and their unique characteristics!

Jan 1, 2023byLauren Rey
cave dwelling creatures

There are thousands of caves in the world. Each with its own ecosystem and uniquely adapted creatures that call them home. From bats and blind fish to snakes and salamanders, here’s a look at 10 cave-dwelling creatures and their unique characteristics!



No list of cave-dwelling creatures would be complete without mentioning bats! There are over 14,000 species of bats on the planet, most of which spend a good portion of their time in caves. While bats are probably the most well-known cave-dwelling animal, much about them that is misunderstood.

Unfortunately, bats have a fearsome reputation, but humans have much more to gain than fear from bats. When bats are not roosting in their caves, they are providing an essential public service as nature’s pest control agents! Bats often consume their body weight in insects every night. We have far fewer mosquitoes and other pests to contend with thanks to bats.

Bats are also pollinators for over 300 types of fruit, including peaches, bananas, mangos, guava, cacao, and figs. They are also the primary pollinator of the agave plant from which tequila is derived. Margarita lovers have bats to thank for this sweet and sour libation!



Found in caves, sinkholes, and underground rivers of the Adriatic coast, the olm is a fascinating creature! Olms are a type of aquatic salamander. They are blind and uniquely adapted for life in total darkness. They use their sensitive hearing, taste, smell, and electrosensitivity for hunting prey. Their prey consists of insect larvae, small crustaceans, and snails.

While their appearance is undoubtedly fascinating, the most interesting thing about olms is how long they can go without eating. Olms can slow their metabolism and store excess food as glycogen deposits in their liver. They have been known to go a whopping 10 years between meals! Olms are also one of the longest-living species of salamanders, reaching up to 100 years of age.

Devil’s Hole Pupfish

devils hole pupfish

Found exclusively in a geothermal pool within a cave in Death Valley, the Devil’s Hole pupfish is an extraordinary creature that survives against all odds! Death Valley is known as the “hottest place on earth”, with scorching temperatures reaching well over 120 degrees. The waters within the cave of Devil’s Hole always sit around 92 degrees, far from the typical temperatures fish can survive in.

The Devil’s Hole pupfish not only survives but thrives in these temperatures by feeding on whatever is seasonally available including algae, insects, and crustaceans. They are also adapted to the low oxygenation of the waters of Devil’s Hole by entering a state of paradoxical anaerobism marked by decreased physiological activity, body temperature, and metabolic rate.

These fascinating fish are one of the rarest in the world. Due to their isolation, Devil’s Hole pupfish are unfortunately also one of the most inbred species in the world. Conservation efforts to diversify the population are ongoing.

Puerto Rican Boa

puerto rican boa

Endemic to the island of Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rican boa, is a unique cave-dwelling snake species with an appetite for bats! Puerto Rican boas are adaptable to all sorts of environments and prey but are often found in higher numbers in the karst regions. The limestone caves of these regions are home to multiple species of bats, which have become a favorite food source of the Puerto Rican boa.

Culbrones Cave, aptly nicknamed Cave of the Boas, has one of the largest concentrations of Puerto Rican boas. Blending seamlessly with the hanging vines within the caves, these snakes can effortlessly snag bats as they enter and exit the cave.

Texas Blind Salamander

texas blind salamander

One of the rarest salamanders, the Texas blind salamander lives solely in the cave waters of the Edwards Aquifer in central Texas. Like many other cave-dwelling salamanders, the Texas blind salamander has no eyes and heightened adaptations of other senses to hunt. The Texas blind salamander detects changes in water pressure waves created by small crustaceans moving through the water. In their remote environment, these stealthy salamanders are at the top of the food chain and feed on all invertebrates that inhabit the same cave waters.

Cave Racer

cave racer

Found in caves throughout southeast Asia, the cave racer is a cave-dwelling snake with unique hunting habits. Unlike most other snakes that are nocturnal–primarily active at night, cave racers are cathemeral–active at random times throughout the day.

Cave racers can be found in various environments, including rainforests, but they are noted to prefer caves. It is believed their preference for these caves comes from the variety of prey found in them. While rodents and birds are top food sources for the cave racer, they are also known for their unique ability to hunt bats. Cave racers have exceptional climbing abilities and will scale cave walls to reach bats while they roost.

Southern Cave Crayfish

southern cave crayfish

Found throughout karst regions of the southeastern US, the southern cave crayfishis uniquely adapted to its dark, watery environment. It has little to no pigmentation or eyesight and a special ability to slow its metabolism. They are mainly scavengers and will feed on whatever decaying plant or animal materials they find in the water.

The southern cave crayfish is a keystone species in its environment, serving as a food source for many other cave-dwelling creatures. Fish, salamanders, and even raccoons and otters that will enter caves to find food all feed on crayfish.

Red Cave Salamander

red cave salamander

Native to the limestone caves of the Ozarks, the red cave salamander is an excellent climber. They can often be seen scaling cave walls and hanging from stalactites, the icicle-like mineral formations that protrude from cave ceilings.

Red cave salamanders are an essential part of their native ecosystems. They feed on a variety of insects and small crustaceans and are prey species for other animals in and around the caves. Birds, snakes, and even larger fish all prey on the red cave salamander.

Tumbling Creek Cave Snail

tumbling creek cave snail

Found only in the remote Tumbling Creek Cave in Missouri, the Tumbling Creek cave snail is one of the rarest species of snails on earth. Uniquely adapted for cave life, the Tumbling Creek cave snail is a blind, aquatic cave snail that feeds on microscopic larvae and bacterial film.

Very little is known about the Tumbling Creek cave snail’s impact on its environment, but it is believed to have an important role to play. Tumbling Creek cave is rich in biodiversity, including a large colony of bats. Scientists are studying the snail to see what effects it may have if this rare snail continues to decline in numbers.

Blind Cavefish

blind cave fish

Found throughout several karst regions of the north and central America, the blind cavefish is a product of millions of years of evolution. Eventually losing their eyes completely after living in near or total darkness, the blind cavefish gained heightened abilities of their other senses.

Blind cavefish navigate their dark underground habitat by detecting vibrations in the water. An increased sense of smell helps them see prey such as smaller fish, worms, and snails. They will also eat decaying matter which their heightened sense of smell also helps them detect.

Interestingly, a subspecies of blind cavefish found in Mexico display very different characteristics depending on where they live. Cavefish in the remote underground caves of the region were completely blind while those found closer to the surface had semi-functioning eyes. This makes the blind cavefish an extraordinary specimen of evolution.

Lauren Rey
byLauren Rey

A lover of all animals, Lauren’s background is in the veterinary world, but she is now a content writer on travel, wildlife, and all things pets! She’s based in Florida, but when not writing, she’s usually plotting out a new road trip route with her partner-in-crime. Pickles is a mixed-breed rescue dog that loves hiking, road trips, and Starbucks just as much as her mom does!