Golden Mantella Frog

Children's Zoo

0.75-1.25 inches
1 - > 1.25 inches
< 2 oz (56 grams)
2 oz (56 grams)

12-14 months
12-14 months

Geographic Range

SE Madagascar

Scientific Information

Scientific Name:
Mantella aurantiaca

Lifestyle and Lifespan

Activity Time Frame:
Sexual Dimorphism:
2-6 days
Lifespan in the Wild:
6-8 years
Lifespan in Captivity:
6-8 years


Critically Endangered


The golden mantella is the most well known of the mantella frog species. Individuals can be yellow, bright orange, or orange-red in color. All mantellas are small and slender, with short legs and unwebbed toes. Golden Mantellas are one half to just over one inch in length and come in golden yellow (sometimes with red marks on the inner legs), bright orange, or ruby red. The color of males tends to be darker and a little more intense than that of females. Males are somewhat smaller and less heavy bodied than females. They have horizontal pupils in entirely black eyes.

Species Specifics

Males have white femoral glands on the underside of their thighs.

Physical Characteristics

All frogs require water, but they do not obtain it by drinking. Their permeable skin allows them to absorb water cutaneously. An amphibian's ability to change color depends on many factors such as light, temperature, humidity, season, diet, and mood.



In tropical rainforests near shallow pools and ponds.


Throughout southeastern Madagascar.


Insectivore. Eats termites, ants, fruit flies, and other small arthropods.

Ecological Web

These frogs have an entirely insectivorous diet. Golden Mantellas are known for attempting to eat anything, even if the taste is repulsive.

Activity and Behavior

Activity Pattern



Social Behavior

Adult mantellas live in small colonies scattered throughout southeastern Madagascar, with an average of two males for every one female. During the spring breeding season males claim and protect territories, calling out to the females with a series of short, very rapid clicks. If another male mantella wanders into guarded territory, the owner wrestles with him and pushes him back out.

Reproductive Behavior

Males have a three-note call (with three clicks per note) that they use to attract females. The mating process of these frogs is rather secretive, and usually takes place under bark, logs or rocks. If a non-gravid female is amplexed, she will flick her legs and back flip until the male releases her. Mating usually occurs when there has been an abundant amount of food available and when the first substantial rain comes. Once amplexus is successfully underway, a suitable egg-laying site will be searched for. These sites usually include damp moss, crevices in logs, or underneath damp bark and rocks. The sites are always adjacent to a water source. Clutches consist of 12 to 30 eggs, 2 to 3 mm in diameter. Clutches are immediately fertilized by a male, although fertilization can occur up to 2 days later and by multiple males.


A female mantella waits until the first big rainstorm of the season and then deposits her eggs in damp leaf litter or in a short tunnel she has dug. The climbing mantella female climbs in trees and deposits her eggs in tree holes. Male mantellas then tend to the eggs until hatching. The eggs hatch into tiny tadpoles a few days later. The little ones are washed by rainfall into small pools nearby, where they eat algae and grow.



Listed as Critically Endangered (CR) by IUCN due to habitat loss, pollution and over-collection for the pet trade.


Current Threats

Our Role

Golden Mantella frogs are currently present in 35 zoos, (including Oakland Zoo) where they successfully breed in captivity.

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How You Can Help

Fascinating Facts

They acquire toxins from the prey they eat (primarily ants, termites and fruit flies,) and use these toxins for their own chemical defense. While not deadly, (like their golden poison frog counterparts) mantellas can secrete enough toxins to make a predator sick, or give themselves a very unappealing taste!

Interestingly, human actions can affect how toxic mantellas can be. For instance, mantellas living in areas untouched by human activity have more alkaloid toxins in their bodies than those living in areas that have been polluted. As humans move into mantella habitat or pollute it with contaminants, many of the frogs' prey items are killed off, and there is less variety for the mantellas to eat. Scarcer food options means fewer alkaloids to be absorbed, which eventually leads to less toxic frogs.

A group of mantellas is called an army.