Golden mantellaScientific Name Mantella aurantiaca                             

Conservation Status Critically endangered

Appearance

This species is coloured bright gold or orange-red though males are slightly paler than the females. The inner thigh is red. Their eyes are coloured black.

Golden mantellas have skin which is slightly transparent. This adaptation allows some of their internal organs to be seen through the skin.

Their bright colouration serves to show predators that their skin is poisonous and it would be unwise to eat them. This adaptation is known as protective mimicry or aposematism.

At the end of their short legs are feet that have no webbing between the fingers and toes that have adhesive disks on them.

Golden mantellas measure just 2-3cm (0.75-1.25in) long.

Lifespan                                                                                  

They live for between 5 and 10 years.

Diet

This species is insectivorous. Their diet is made up of mites, termites, ants and fruit flies.

Through their diet the golden mantella obtains the alkaloid toxins which make their poison. These poisons will make their predators incredibly sick or at the least make them taste unpleasant. When humans move into the habitat of golden mantellas they kill off some of their food sources. This has led to less alkaloids in their diet and thus less toxic frogs.

Habitat

Golden mantellaMadagascar is the native home of the golden mantella. Here they are found in just three distinct areas near the Western edge of the island.

They live in rainforests, swampy areas and are often found in screw pine forest.

In the wild numbers are decreasing due collection for the pet trade and fragmentation of their native forest.

Reproduction

Small groups of golden mantellas known as armies will form. These have one male to every two females.

Breeding takes place during November. Males will set up a territory that is concealed and near the water. Here they repeat their 3 click call over and over till they attract a female.

Females will find a section of moist leaf litter where they can deposit their clutch of between 20 and 60 white eggs. Male mantellas will care for their frogs for a few days till they hatch. Once this occurs the tadpoles are washed into the water by floods. Once they ae here they feed on algae and grow.

It takes 6-8 weeks before the tadpoles begin to resemble frogs. At this point they are only about 1cm (0.4in) long. These little frogs begin life coloured a dull brown that blends well with the lead litter.

After a year they are sexually mature and coloured like the adults.

Behavior

Golden mantellas are active during the day unlike most other frogs which are nocturnal. This is believed to be an adaptation which means that predators can see their colourful warning.

Their call consists of a series of short, chirping notes.

Small mammals, snakes and birds all prey upon these frogs though their colourful pattern helps to keep predators at bay.

Unlike most frogs the golden mantella is found mostly on the ground. Their short legs are an adaptation that helps them climb more than it allows them to hop.

Quick facts

The golden mantella is one of Madagascar’s most endangered amphibian species.

Photo Credits:

Top
By Derrick Coetzee (User:Dcoetzee) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom
By Brian Gratwicke from DC, USA (Golden mantella founder at Mitsinjo) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons