8 Animals that live in Caves

Cave animals are some of the most fascinating creatures on the planet. They either permanently or temporarily live here and have adapted to life in the dark, unforgiving environment of caves.

Many of these animals are adapted to live in complete darkness and therefore have reduced eyesight or no eyes at all.

Because of this, some have developed the use of echolocation to navigate in the dark. They produce sounds and use the echoes to figure out what’s around them. That’s quite amazing.

They may be found in both natural and man-made caves. Because of this very unusual environment, some of them are so unique that they only occur in a particular cave system and nowhere else.

So what are some of the most notable animals that live in caves? In this list, you’ll find out!

1. Gray Bat

The gray bat is a species of bat that is found in the southeastern United States. It is a medium-sized bat with gray or brown fur, and it is known for its large, loose folds of skin that extend from its body, a feature that makes it easily recognizable.

This type of bat is a federally endangered species and is protected by the Endangered Species Act. It is found in a limited number of caves in Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, and Alabama.

This makes it surprising that it is thought to be one of the most abundant bat species in North America. The gray bat feeds primarily on insects, and it is an important predator in the ecosystems where it lives.

Animals that live in caves Gray bat
The gray bat / David Dennis / Wiki Commons

2. Giant Huntsman Spider

The Giant Huntsman Spider, also known as the Giant Crab Spider or the Banana Spider, is a species of spider that is found in caves and forests in Southeast Asia and Australia.

It is the largest spider in the world by leg span, with some individuals reaching up to 30 centimeters (12 inches) in size. That’s a pretty huge spider to come across, that’s for sure.

This spider is a hunter and it feeds on insects and small animals. It is not considered to be dangerous to humans, though, as it doesn’t have a venomous bite. Its large size makes it a pretty scary spider.

Giant Huntsman Spider cave animals
Giant Huntsman Spider / Jon Richfield / Wiki Commons

3. Olm

An olm is a type of aquatic salamander that is found in the caves of the Dinaric Alps in Europe. It is a blind animal that unlike most other amphibians lives exclusively inside the water.

They have a length of between 20 and 30 centimeters (8 and 12 inches) and are perfectly adapted to life in the dark, underwater environments where it lives.

Olms somewhat resemble the axolotl (at least its color scheme) and they are thought to be one of the longest-lived species of amphibians, with some individuals living for over 100 years. That’s quite a stretch to live inside the gloomy environment of a cave.

Olm in a cave
An olm in a cave / Wiki Commons

4. Tumbling Creek cave snail

The Tumbling Creek cave snail is a species of cave-dwelling snail that is found only in Tumbling Creek Cave in Missouri. It is a small snail that is believed to have evolved from a surface-dwelling ancestor, and it is one of only a few species of cave snails that are found in the United States.

This type of cave snail is considered to be an endangered species due to the small size of its population and the threat of habitat destruction. That is obviously because it only occurs in a single cave system in the world.

There’s good news, though, because this fascinating little creature is protected by state and federal laws, and efforts are being made to conserve and protect its habitat.

Tumbling Creek cave snail
Tumbling Creek cave snail / Wiki Commons

5. Mexican Tetra

The Mexican tetra is also known as the blind cave tetra or the blind cave fish. As its name suggests, it is a species of fish that lives in caves in Mexico.

It is a small fish that is transparent and has no eyes, which is thought to be an adaptation to its dark, cave-dwelling habitat. This is also a popular aquarium fish and is known for its unique appearance and hardy nature.

It is an omnivore that feeds on both small insects and plants. There’s an abundance of these creatures swimming around which means that the Mexican tetra is not considered to be threatened or endangered.

Mexican Tetra
Mexican Tetra / H. Zell / Wiki Commons

6. Texas blind salamander

The Texas blind salamander is also known as the Barton Springs salamander and is a species of aquatic salamander that is found in underground aquifers in Texas.

It is a pretty small, blind salamander that has no eyes, and it is well adapted to life in the dark, underground waterways where it lives. It’s a rare and endangered species that is protected by state and federal law.

It is found only in a small area around Austin, Texas, and its habitat is threatened by pollution and habitat destruction. Let’s keep the San Marcos Pool of the Edwards Aquifer where it lives clean, shall we?

Texas blind salamander in its natural habitat
The Texas blind salamander in its natural habitat / Brian Gratwicke / Wiki Commons

7. Devils Hole pupfish

The Devils Hole pupfish is a species of fish that is found in Devils Hole, a small, isolated pool of water in the Mojave Desert of Nevada. It lives in the top 24 meters (80 feet) of this pool which is 130 meters (430 feet) deep.

It is a small fish that is less than 5 centimeters (2 inches) in length, and it is one of the rarest and most endangered fish species in the world. The Devils Hole pupfish is perfectly adapted to live in the warm, alkaline waters of Devils Hole, and it has a unique mating and reproductive strategy.

It” i’s yet another federally endangered species and efforts to preserve this species have been successful. The population rose from just 35 individuals in 2013 to 263 in 2022. Congrats to the people who put in the work to make this happen.

Devils Hole Pupfish
Devils Hole Pupfish / Wiki Commons

8. Spotted-tail salamander

The spotted-tail salamander is also known as the dusky salamander or “Cave Salamander” and is a species of salamander that is found in multiple states of the United States.

It is a medium-sized salamander with a length between 10 and 20 centimeters (4 and 8 inches) that is typically brown or black. As you surely expected, it is distinguished by the spotted pattern on its tail.

The type of salamander is an aquatic species, and it is found in streams, rivers, and other bodies of water in caves. It is an omnivore, and it feeds on insects, worms, and other small animals that are unfortunate enough to cross its path.

Spotted-tail Salamander in a cave
Spotted-tail Salamander in a cave / Hargle / Wiki Commons