Introduction to Mantellas

Mantellas are in most cases under-appreciated in the vivarium hobby. In many cases they are overlooked in favour of the dart frogs. I think its time to give mantellas a second look.

Native only to Madagascar, mantellas can be found throughout much of the Island. Though not as variable as the Dendrobatidis, or numerous in species, they come in nearly every colour imaginable, and in many cases make bold outgoing, fantastic terrarium subjects. Perhaps their most endearing trait is they seem to be social animals, and do best, at least as far as breeding is concerned in larger groups. Care is similar to most Dendrobatids as far as feeding and terrarium setup. Breeding can be somewhat more challenging, and temperatures for most species should be kept slightly cooler, within the range of 65-75F. Most mantellas, even smaller species like crocea will readily take hydei and 1/8″ crickets. Once established, wild caught specimens can be quite hardy. The acclimation process can in some cases be lengthy, as often it is necessary to treat them for parasites and bacterial infection. Captive bred specimens, if well started are hardy from the get-go.

Currently large numbers of wild caught Mantellas are exported from Madagascar on a yearly basis. It is uncertain how long this trend will continue. It is essential that extensive captive breeding programs for all species are initiated to ensure their long term survival in captivity.

There are currently slightly more than a dozen recognized species:

  • M. aurantiaca
  • M. baroni
  • M. bernhardi
  • M. betsilio
  • M. cowani
  • M. crocea
  • M. expectata
  • M. milotympanum
  • M. madagascariensis
  • M. manery
  • M. nigricans
  • M. heraldmeiri
  • M. pulchra
  • M. viridis
  • M. laevigata