Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca)
Order: Anura, Family: Ranidae
The golden mantella measures about 1 inch long and is a brilliant golden-orange color. It occasionally has red flash marks on the insides of its hind legs, and its eyes are jet-black.
It has short legs and distinct adhesive disks on its fingers and toes.
The sexes are dimorphic, with males generally smaller, slimmer and more angular in build than females.
II. GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
- The golden mantella measures about 1 inch long and is a brilliant golden-orange color. It occasionally has red flash marks on the insides of its hind legs, and its eyes are jet-black.
- It has short legs and distinct adhesive disks on its fingers and toes.
- The sexes are dimorphic, with males generally smaller, slimmer and more angular in build than females.
- The golden mantella inhabits Andasibe, Madagascar, and other isolated patches throughout the southeastern part of the country.
- Golden mantellas live in mountain rain forests, preferring to make their homes in mounds of mossy or grassy forest debris bordering shallow swampy waters.
IV. LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
- Adult golden mantellas eat insects such as termites, ants and fruitflies.
- Primarily herbivores, tadpoles feed on algae and detritus.
V. SPECIAL NOTES/ADAPTATIONS:
- The golden mantella is diurnal and hunts for food throughout the day.
- Golden mantellas live in groups with a male-to-female ratio of about 2-to-1.
- They start to breed within 1 to 2 years of age.
- Mating usually takes place when food is abundant and with the first substantial rain of the year. The male mantella calls to the female with a series of short notes, with three short clicks per note. Both sexes, but especially males, are territorial during the breeding season, and will grab intruders by the upper body or head to push them away. Mating takes place surreptitiously, under bark, logs or rocks.
- Females lay between 12 to 30 small whitish eggs, usually in damp moss, log crevices, underneath damp bark, or rocks and always adjacent to water. The male partner immediately fertilizes the eggs, though other males may fertilize the eggs up to two days later. The eggs hatch within two to six days.
- Newly hatched tadpoles wriggle to nearby water or are washed into water by a storm. They change into froglets at 6 to 8 weeks old. At this point, they begin feeding on insects.
- Most golden mantellas live for eight years.
VI. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT:
- Scientists attribute the golden mantella's brilliant coloring to a phenomenon called aposematic coloration. This is a process by which nontoxic species deter possible predators by mimicking the high coloration of toxic species.
VII. POPULATION STATUS:
- Small mammals, snakes and birds prey on the mantella.
VIII. MORE FACTS ABOUT GOLDEN MANTELLAS:
- The golden mantella is not currently threatened, but may become so unless trade is regulated.
- The exotic pet industry, introduced predatory species, major deforestation, and human encroachment have fueled a decline in the population.
- Golden mantellas are known for attempting to eat anything, even if the taste is repulsive.
- Male golden mantellas are shy about communicating vocally; such hesitation may reflect the fear of drawing a predator's attention, or could be a way to conserve energy.
- The golden mantella is the smallest of the mantella species.
- Unlike many amphibians, mantellas lack webbed feet.