Golden Mantella, Mantella aurantiaca
Description: These tiny amphibians only reach an adult size of 24mm. They are mildly toxic and show this by using the bright colouration of the skin. They are active during the day and have few if any predators, much like the poison dart frogs of Central and South America. They occur in primary or secondary rainforest where they live on the forest floor, often amongst bamboo. The frogs like to congregate in sunlit areas of the shady rainforest, which helps them to thermo-regulate. Males can be observed calling from these areas during the day. Although having few predators, they have many threats to their survival and are one of Madagascar’s most threatened species of amphibian: they are collected for the international pet trade, their forests are under threat from pollution and deforestation, and there is also mining companies excavating within the only forests in which they occur.
Reproduction: For such a tiny frog they are capable of laying a surprising amount of eggs, with a female producing up to 60 small white eggs within a single clutch. The eggs are laid on the ground next to small pools of water and when the tadpoles are ready to hatch they are washed into the pools by heavy rain. Their development as tadpoles lasts up to 70 days at which point the newly metamorphosed tiny froglets measure only 11mm. They do not possess the bright colour of the skin as shown in the adults, but are brown and develop the bright orange colouration as they grow.
Diet: Small invertebrates.
Scientific name: Mantella aurantiaca
Distribution: Small area of forest in Central-Eastern Madagascar.
Habitats: Primary and secondary rainforest
Conservation Status: The Golden mantella is Critically Endangered due to deforestation of the areas in which it lives in Madagascar. It occurs only in very small areas, where it can be relatively common, however these areas do not exceed more than a few hectares. The Manchester Museum has these Critically Endangered frogs on display to highlight their conservation needs and supports the captive breeding of the species by Bristol Zoo.
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