Living within just 4 square miles of swampland in Madagascar, wild golden mantellas are a rare frog species. Measuring a mighty one-inch long when full grown, these bright yellow amphibians are surprisingly tough to spot in their native habitat.
image credit: Great Big Story
Though they have few natural predators, collection for the pet trade coupled with deforestation has dramatically affected their population, rendering this frog critically endangered.They demonstrate remarkable convergences in appearance, habits and colouration with the neotropic poison arrow frogs of the family Dendrobatidae.
image credit: San Diego Zoo Animals
The impression of a high level of convergence was further confirmed when it could be demonstrated that Mantella are also poisonous and that Mantella laevigata climbs on trees and breeds in tree-holes.Golden Mantella only eat live food such as fruitflies, springtails and hatchling crickets, as they recognise food by how it moves and not by its colour or smell.
They are fascinating to watch.”The species is expected to decline by 80 percent over the next ten years as a result of habitat destruction. Slash and burn agriculture and the logging of trees for charcoal are driving this loss of habitat.
The female lays eggs on the ground and the rain washes them into ponds or swamps where they develop. The Golden Mantella ranges in color from yellow, orange, to red, with a length of up to 31 mm. Males have white femoral glands on the undersides of their thighs. Like poison dart frogs, the Golden Mantella retains toxins from the insects they eat so that they themselves are toxic too.