Slovenia is a beautiful country lying in a quite interesting location. It means unique weather conditions and unique landscapes. Because of that, Slovenian territories became a home for a bunch of endemic species.
In Slovenia, there are endemic species as well as indigenous breeds of animals. The first ones are Alpine Ibex, Lipizzaner, Soca Trout, Proteus, Karst Shepherd, and Carniolan Honey Bee. Moreover, there are a number of endemic plankton, spiders, and beetles never found in other parts of the world.
In this article, let’s define together the endemic fauna of Slovenia.
Distinctive Animals of Slovenia
In general, Slovenia is home for approximately 24000 animal species, but the animals mentioned next will be unique Slovenian indigenous breeds.
This one is the species of wild goat that lives only in the Alps. In Slovenia, it can be found in such regions as the Julian Alps, Kamnik-Savinja Alps, and Karavanke. The goat is almost extinct, but scientists and nature workers could save them from full extinction in recent years.
The goats are sexually dimorphic, so the male and female species differ. In this case, males have large and curved horns. They all are typically brownish grey.
This is indigenous species of a wild horse. The horse was found in the Lipizza Stud of the Habsburg monarchy, thus it was named so. The other name is Karster. It is considered as a noble and elegant horse and dates back to the Middle Ages. The horse was domesticated many years ago, so now it is well-known for its adjusting to classical dressage and easy to teach approach. Also, they have a long life expectancy. The breed took part in warfares of World War I and World War II.
Maybe, the most unique fact about them is that they are born black but become white as they grow up to adulthood.
The official name of it is salmo marmoratus or marble trout. It is freshwater fish in the Salmonidae family that lives mainly in the fresh waters of the Soca River and its tributaries. Sometimes, the fish can be found in the water basins of the Adriatic Sea.
The fish has a distinctive marble color pattern, especially on their back and head. The adult species are predators, so their nutrition consists of some other small fish, but the young ones consume plants, insects, and plankton.
This human fish kind is also called the olm. This is an aquatic salamander, so it was also named as human fish because of its appearance, mostly its color. This amphibian lives in the areas of Dinaric Karst. That’s why it is quite common in Slovenia, however, found only in the underground Karst. Moreover, it is a symbol of the Slovenian national heritage. Because of interest from scientific fields, this one attracted much attention, and the Postojna Cave became a cradle of paleobiology as a scientific discipline. In old times, people believed that olms were the offsprings of the dragons. They mostly noticed them when rains were washing them out from the caves.
These species have undeveloped eyes because of their underground way of living, whereas good sensibility has other senses. Also, their skin is not pigmented because of the same reason.
It is a breed of livestock guardian dog originating from Slovenia. This is a medium-sized dog, and it is well-known for its pastoral features as well as thick and adorable grey hair. The dog was mentioned in historical archives as well as in some of the written works of the Slovenian writers. For example, Janez Vajkard Valvasor mentioned it in one of his books.
The breed was almost extinct after the Second World War. Fortunately, a lot, specialists in breeding managed to increase it up to a satisfactory level. The dog is officially recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale.
Carniolan Honey Bee
The world most famous bee breed originating from Slovenia. Furthermore, it became the most widespread bee in the world. The bees were naturalized and adapted to the subregion of Kočevje of the region of Carniola. In English, the name tends to be shortened as “Carnies”. This breed is a favorite among beekeepers for a bunch of reasons. First of all, they are quite flexible in terms of location and weather. Also, they can rapidly expand the population of bee workers if needed. Moreover, the bees are quite resistant to parasites and diseases. And most important, they are gentle and not aggressive.
This one is also called the Slovenian sheep. As milk products are a big part of the Slovenian culture, the sheep is a highly respectful animal. The sheep originated from the upper valley of the Soča or Isonzo River. This one is likely to live in the mountainous valleys, because the climate here is perfect for them. Therefore, Slovenia became the right place for this breed.
Usually, the Bovec sheep are whitish, there are about 30% of cases black or brown. They have small ears, short, thin legs, and a distinctive form of the head. The height of rams is 25 in (64 cm) and ewes 24 in (60 cm). It was reported around 3500 of its population in Slovenia.
Krškopolje (Blackbelted) Pig
This one is the only preserved Slovenian autochthonous breed of pig. The breed is well-known since the 19th century. They came from Krško Valley. Usually, they are fully black or stripped as well.
The largest bird that lives in Slovenia. Their wingspan can reach over two meters. They are predators, so they hunt other birds as well as some small mammals. The nests are usually high in the mountains, so they are not visible for humans. Experts estimate that now, in Slovenia, there are only 25 pairs of these eagles left, so the breed is highly protected by the government and nature organizations.
It is a common animal for the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere, but the only Slovenian ones are left in the quantity of 450. The largest group was found in Kocevje old-growth-forest. The bears now are negatively facing human influence and sometimes the lack of food.
Endemic Plankton, Beetles, and Spiders of Slovenia
· Acanthocyclops hypogeus is a copepod (plankton) from the family Cyclopidae.
· Anophthalmus hitleri is a species of blind beetles found only in the caves of Slovenia. The name of this one has quite an interesting story. Oscar Scheibel, the scientist who found this species, dedicated it to Adolf Hitler, who had recently become the chancellor of Germany. The Fuhrer noticed that, of course, and sent a letter of gratitude to the scientist. The name, interesting color, and its unusual antennas make this beetle a desire of collector. This led it to the danger of extinction.
· Athous angulifrons are species of click beetle. It is defined to the family Elateridae, and it’s endemic to Kamnik–Savinja Alps of Slovenia. The species are 9–12 millimeters (0.35–0.47 in) long, and they are green-yellow color.
· Fabaeformiscandona aemonae is a species of seed shrimp (plankton) in the Candonidae family.
· Niphargus aberrans is a species of crustacean (shrimps, crabs, lobsters) in the family Niphargidae.
· Niphargus hadzii is also a species of crustacean, named Slovene zoologist Jovan Hadži, in the family Niphargidae.
· Niphargus sphagnicolus and Niphargus spoeckeri are the same endemics as mentioned above from the family also mentioned above.
· Paramorariopsis anae is a species of plankton in the family Canthocamptidae.
· Pseudomoraria triglavensis is also a species of copepod. Its family is Canthocamptidae. The interesting fact is that this one was found only in a small alpine lake Močilec in the Julian Alps of Triglav National Park, Slovenia. Moreover, it is living at an altitude of 1,690 meters (5,540 ft). The species now is listed on the IUCN Red List as the vulnerable species.
· Troglohyphantes gracilis, troglohyphantes similis, and troglohyphantes spinipes are three types of a spider in the family Linyphiidae. Sometimes they are called Kočevje subterranean spiders, and they all are endemic to Slovenia.
· Typhlocypris cavicola is one more species of seed shrimp that is only found in Krka Cave, in Slovenia.
· Typhlocypris trigonella is one more species of seed shrimp that is only found in Postojna Cave, in Slovenia.
To Sum Up
As I mentioned in the beginning, Slovenia lies in quite a fortunate region. The Slovenian Alps that cover cold wind masses from the North and keep hot masses from the Adriatic Sea inside the country create perfect weather conditions for fauna and flora blooming.
Moreover, such unique places as karst caves are often a home for never found before types of fauna. For example, there was found a number of copepods and crustaceans that are endemic to Slovenia and Slovenian caves. Also, there are spiders and beetles that never left the territories of Slovenia. Some of them are even with interesting stories (like the one named after Hitler).
Big animals’ endemics are also respected in the country. The Slovenian shepherd, horses, bees, and sheep become already cultural feature parts because of their contribution to it.