Similar to the small, brightly-colored poison frogs of South America, mantellas are native to the forests and streams of Madagascar. For many years, scientists thought mantellas of Madagascar were closely related to South America’s poison frogs, which they resemble.

Physical Description

The green mantella can actually be green, golden or black in color. They have a black striped mask pattern that runs across their face and down part of their body.


Tiny frogs, they are usually only about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) long, about the length of a paperclip.

Native Habitat

They can be found in the deciduous forests of Madagascar, near temporary brooks and streams with shade and vegetation.


They live for 5 to 10 years.


In the spring, males vocally claim and defend territories. If they encounter another male, they will wrestle until one is forced out. The males also use short, clicking calls to attract females. Their calls last less than 30 milliseconds.

Food/Eating Habits

These frogs mainly eat insects, including ants, fruit flies, termites and other small arthropods like spiders. They will also sometimes eat fruit, especially soft fruit that has fallen to the forest floor. Like most frogs, they need water but don’t actually drink it. Rather, they absorb all the water they need through their permeable skin.

Sleep Habits

As a diurnal species, these frogs are active during the daytime, which they mostly spend hunting for food. 

Social Structure

These frogs live in small colonies that usually include about twice as many males as females. 

Reproduction and Development

After mating, females lay between 15 to 60 golden-green eggs under rocks or in dead tree trunks during the first big rainstorm of the spring. Male mantellas guard the eggs. During a heavy rain, the tadpoles will hatch and ride the rainwater into small pools on the forest floor. There, they will eat algae until they grow to their adult size after about 45 to 65 days. 

Conservation Efforts

The main threat facing mantellas is habitat loss due to fires, logging, firewood collection and livestock grazing. Habitat loss has led to their range becoming highly fragmented, meaning local populations are isolated, which limits genetic diversity and make it harder for the species to adapt and survive. Rising sea levels due to climate change have also isolated some island populations of mantellas. 

Additionally, many amphibian populations are at risk from the threat of various strains of amphibian chytrid fungus. Although the effects of the fungus are still uncertain in a number of amphibian species in Madagascar, populations of green mantellas do not appear to have shown widespread decline to date.

Help this Species

  • Practice ecotourism by being an advocate for the environment when you’re on vacation. During your travels, support, visit or volunteer with organizations that protect wildlife. Shop smart too! Avoid buying products made from animals, which could support poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.
  • Choose your pets wisely, and do your research before bringing an animal home. Exotic animals don’t always make great pets. Many require special care and live for a long time. Tropical reptiles and small mammals are often traded internationally and may be victims of the illegal pet trade. Never release animals that have been kept as pets into the wild.
  • Organize or attend a stream, river, lake or other waterway cleanup in your area to preserve aquatic habitats for local species.
  • Support organizations like the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute that research better ways to protect and care for this animal and other endangered species. Consider donating your time, money or goods.
  • Avoid single-use plastics, such as plastic bottles, bags and utensils. Choosing reusable options instead can help reduce plastic pollution.
  • Conservation starts with you! Join a citizen science project, such as FrogWatch or Neighborhood Nestwatch, where you can help collect valuable data for scientists. Encourage your friends and family to get involved too.
  • Protect local waterways by using fewer pesticides when caring for your garden or lawn. Using fertilizers sparingly, keeping storm drains free of litter and picking up after your pet can also improve watershed health.
  • Growing, transporting and preparing food uses a lot of resources, so choose local, seasonal produce when possible. A significant amount of food waste also ends up in landfills, so only buy what you can eat.

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