Lifestyle and Lifespan
A large and robust frog that can reach 30 mm (1.2 inches). They are largely green, although some individuals appear more yellow in color. A black mask wraps around the face with a white band around the top lip. The underside is black with blue speckles. Females tend to be larger, more plump and have a more square snout.
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 ropical rainforests near shallow pools and ponds.
Restricted to extreme northern Madagascar and most well-known from Montagne des Fran�ais. They inhabit dry lowland forest, especially around streambeds. They are found at elevations of 50 - 300 m above sea level.
Insectivore (primarily.) Eats termites, ants, fruit flies, and other small arthropods. Also eats soft fallen fruits.
Insectivore. Primary consumer. Avid diurnal predator (hunts primarily insects).
Diurnal. Spends most of its day hunting for food.
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.
Males attract females by calling out very short notes that are composed of two even shorter clicks. Between 15 and 60 greenish-yellow eggs are laid in cavities under rocks and in the trunks of dead trees. The little ones hatch into tadpoles during heavy rainfall, which washes them into small pools of water nearby. The tadpoles eat algae and grow to a size of 28 mm. They undergo metamorphosis into their adult form after 45-65 days.
A female mantella waits until the first big rainstorm of the season and then deposits her eggs in damp leaf litter or 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.
Listed as Critically Endangered (CR) by IUCN due to habitat loss and pollution.
Many mantella species (but not the Golden Mantella) secrete toxins like those found in South America's poison frogs. They get alkaloid toxins from the prey that they eat, primarily ants, termites, and fruit flies. They then use these toxins for their own chemical defense. While not deadly, they secrete enough toxins to make a predator sick or, at the very least, they can make themselves taste quite bad!
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.
For many years, scientists believed that Madagascar's mantellas and South America's poison frogs were closely related. But DNA studies have shown that they are only distant relatives with similar bright, warning colors.
Andreone, Franco, V. Mercurio, F Mattioli, and T J. Razafindrabe. 2005. "Good News for Three Critically Endangered and Traded Frogs From Madagascar." FROGLOG 72.
Rabemananjara, F. C. E., A. Crottini, Y. Chiari, F. Andreone, F. Glaw, R. Duguet, P. Bora, O. Ravoahangimalala Ramilijaona & M. Vences. 2007. Molecular systematics of Malagasy poison frogs in the Mantella betsileo and M. laevigata species groups. Zootaxa 1501: 31-44.
Vences, M., F. Glaw & W. Böhme. 1999. A review of the genus Mantella (Anura, Ranidae, Mantellinae): taxonomy, distribution and conservation of Malagasy poison frogs. Alytes 17 (1-2): 3-72. fw:10
Oakland Zoo. 1997. Green Mantella Frog. http://www.oaklandzoo.org//Green_Mantella_Frog.php