Found only in the eastern forests of Madagascar the species is now restricted to a handful of mid altitude forest fragments (800-900m asl) here the species is found around seasonal and permanent pools where the species will court mate and breed.
Active from very early in the morning the frogs can be seen hunting for food as well as calling and courting, but by the time the sun reaches its peak and the temperature, even in the shadows of the canopy, begins to heat up the frogs are hiding deep amongst the leaf litter.
Socially Mantellas in general are a bit different to Dart frogs in that they really prefer to be in large groups, a viable breeding group would consist of several males to call against one another and then multiple females so multiple spawnings can be achieved, I try to aim for groups of around 5.5+.0 in fact a group of 5.10.0 will be a very productive group but in the past I have maintained groups closer to 10.40.0 without there being any issues (apart from the amount of food they eat). Males tend to call from raised points in the vivarium until they have the attention of a female and then lead them to a suitable spawning site, usually beneath a piece of bark or a large leaf, or if possible under moss in a cave they excavate themselves!
The spawn develops quickly and within a week the tadpoles can be clearly seen wriggling away in the spawn mass. in the wild rainfall washes the tadpoles into pools and ditches but in captivity we tend to remove the spawn and once the tadpoles begin to free themselves from the eggs we wash them out into a shallow aquarium filled with Java moss and guava leaves.
The tadpoles develop quickly if fed enough and water quality maintained, we use a carotenoid enriched fish food which helps maintain the natural colour of the adult frogs. As soon as they have 4 legs the tadpoles are removed to an emerging enclosure where they can leave the water when ready and begin to feed.
In the wild however the story is different, the pressures on the species are much like those faced by frogs all over the world, habitat loss, not just for farming, but deforestation for charcoal production, pollution by attempts at gold mining, sapphire mining, and the wholesale destruction caused by vast mining operations in search of Nickel and Cobalt for the manufacture of rechargeable batteries for high end tech, add to this the presence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and the future is sketchy to say the least.
However there are people working to help these iconic frogs, check out the work done by Madagasikara Voakajy with assistance from Chester Zoo, Home – Madagasikara Voakajy (madagasikara-voakajy.org).
Golden Mantella habitat and a few of the locals!