Fun Painted Mantella Facts For Kids

Georgia Stone
Aug 31, 2023 By Georgia Stone
Originally Published on Oct 27, 2021
fascinating painted mantella facts to get you interested in the amphibian world!

Mantellas are one of the showiest and most cryptic frogs you can come across in the wild. They are endemic to the island of Madagascar.

The frog genus Mantella has 16 species and five species groups, all belonging to the order Anura, family Mantellidae, and class Amphibia. One of these Mantella species is Mantella madagascariensis, also known by various common names such as the painted mantella, Madagascan mantella, Malagasy painted mantella, Malagasy mantella, and Madagascar golden frog.

The painted mantella frog species is closely related to Parker's mantella (Mantella pulchra) and very similar in appearance to Baron's mantella (Mantella baroni). In fact, the similarity in appearance between Mantella baroni and Mantella madagascariensis leads to the former being informally called the painted mantella despite it belonging to a distinct species altogether.

It is this striking similarity that often leads breeders, pet owners, and collectors to acquire the wrong species.

Like other members of the Mantella genus, the Madagascan mantella's skin harbors toxic substances. One of the many frog adaptations, the animals use these toxins as a defense against predators.

Populations of the painted mantella frogs are native to East-Central Madagascar. These mantellas are quite colorful in their appearance and can be pretty difficult to spot when concealed among foliage in the wild.

Stout and small, the dorsal (upper) surface of the body is largely black, with bright yellowish-green blotches marking the flanks and sometimes extending to the dorsum.

The legs are yellow to green with distinct reddish-orange flash marks. Overall, the frogs are variable in their color pattern and markings and bear significant resemblance to another mantella frog species, Mantella baroni.

Unfortunately, large-scale habitat loss and the introduction of exotic species have brought these visually splendid amphibians close to being critically endangered. Out of the 16 species of mantella frogs, a majority are either Vulnerable or Critically Endangered due to global climate change, pollution, habitat loss, the illegal pet trade, and the introduction of invasive species.

Currently, the IUCN Red List categorizes the painted mantella frog as Vulnerable.

There's more to the interesting painted mantellas. Read on to discover!

If you like reading about the painted mantellas, why not check out articles on other frog types such as the Mozambique rain frog and pool frog?

Painted Mantella Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a painted mantella?

The painted mantella is a species of frog in the family Mantellidae.

What class of animal does a painted mantella belong to?

Painted mantellas belong to the class of Amphibia.

How many painted mantellas are there in the world?

An estimate of the total population size of painted mantellas is not available. However, they are vulnerable to becoming endangered and have a decreasing population trend globally.

Where does a painted mantella live?

Painted mantellas are endemic to Madagascar, particularly East-Central Madagascar. Populations are found from the Niagarakely Waterfalls, south, up to the Ranomafana National Park in southeastern Madagascar. The animal can live at elevations of 2,296-3,445 ft (700-1,050 m) above sea level.

What is a painted mantella's habitat?

The Madagascan painted mantellas naturally inhabit areas along rivers or streams, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, or subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. These animals are ground-dwellers.

When kept as pets, Mantella frogs require high humidity levels. They thrive best at a humidity range of 80-100% and a temperature range of 72-76 F (22.2-24.4 C).

In fact, these animals cannot sustain extreme heat and may die if the temperature exceeds 80 F (26.6 C). The substrate of the frog's shelter should be such that it holds humidity. Commercial rainforest substrate or coconut husk works well.

The substrate may be covered with sphagnum moss or a sheet to help retain moisture. Besides, a source of UVB lighting may also be beneficial for the animals.

Who do painted mantellas live with?

No information is available as to whether the painted mantellas spend a solitary life or live in groups. The bright yellow, orange, and red-colored golden mantella frogs (Mantella aurantiaca) are known to live in groups comprising twice as many males as females.

How long does a painted mantella live?

On average, mantella frogs have a lifespan in the range of 5-10 years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

Not much is known about the specific breeding details of painted mantellas except that breeding takes place in streams, the females lay eggs on land, and the tadpoles develop into froglets in water streams.

In general, Mantella frog females in the wild lay eggs in moist and enclosed sites such as damp leaf litter, rocks, or depressions in moss or sponge near a water source.

The number of eggs laid may vary with the maturity of the females and the specific Mantella frog type.

Several males may fertilize the eggs, which are then incubated for about two to six days.

Depending on the specific Mantella frog, the tadpoles may take anything between 45-360 days to metamorphose into froglets. The froglets, in turn, reach breeding maturity in about 12-15 months.

What is their conservation status?

As per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the painted mantella is Vulnerable in the wild. Primary threats to these animals include the loss and degradation of inhabited areas due to developmental activities, agriculture, aquaculture, logging, collection for the live pet trade, diseases, and the introduction of non-native species.

Painted Mantella Fun Facts

What do painted mantellas look like?

The painted mantella is a tiny but strong amphibian with females slightly larger than the males. The colorful and variegated painted mantella frog colors are what make the animal a sight to behold.

The frogs have an overall blackish body, particularly the dorsum, upper head surface, and flanks. A yellowish or green rostral stripe begins from the mouth and extends behind to outline the upper part of the eye.

The humerus and femur are yellowish-green, and the color extends to the flanks and sometimes into the dorsum as large blotches. The foot, tibia, and tarsus are reddish-orange with patches of black.

The painted mantellas and the similar-looking Mantella baroni will surely remind you of the South American poison dart frogs of the family Dendrobatidae. In fact, poison dart frogs and Mantella baroni are distant relatives.

The striking and unconventional color patterns that members of both families exhibit is an example of a biological phenomenon called aposematism. Aposematic features are seen in the frogs' rostral line and the bright colorations on the limbs.

Through these visual signals, toxic and poison-producing animals such as Mantella baroni advertise their dangerous nature to any potential predator.

A diet rich in mites allows these frogs to release toxins in their skin in the form of alkaloid substances. Hence, the dazzling colors serve as a warning signal that feeding on these frogs could be harmful or deadly.

How cute are they?

The tiny proportions of the painted mantella do make them cute to a certain degree. However, its dark body contrasted with splashes of vibrant colors lends a more enigmatic and charming look.

How do they communicate?

Mantella frog males are known to make loud and short clicking sounds to mark territory and attract females. Besides, visual and chemical cues include vibrant body colorations to convey their toxic nature to predators, particularly in Mantella baroni.

How big is a painted mantella?

A male painted mantella can have a body length between 0.83-0.86 in (21-22 mm), and a female is about 0.94-0.98 in (24-25 mm). It is almost four to five times smaller than a tree frog.

How fast can a painted mantella swim?

No information is available as to how fast the painted mantellas can swim. They are terrestrial animals that spend most of their time moving on land.

How much does a painted mantella weigh?

An estimate of the painted mantella's weight is not available. Mantella frogs, in general, can weigh up to 2 oz (56 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no special names for the Mantella frog males and females.

What would you call a baby painted mantella?

Very young Mantellas would be called tadpoles. The young tadpoles then metamorphose into froglets and subsequently into adult frogs.

What do they eat?

All Mantella frogs have a purely insectivorous diet. Their diet primarily consists of insects like ants, termites, and other arthropods such as spiders, beetles, and mites.

Are they poisonous?

Painted mantellas are poisonous and secrete toxic alkaloid substances in their skin. Feeding on mites helps the frogs release the toxins.

Would they make a good pet?

If properly cared for, the colorful painted mantellas make excellent pets. In fact, they are quite popular in the live pet trade.

Besides, when in captivity, the captive food makes these frogs lose their toxicity and can be safely kept as pets. Their diurnal lifestyle also makes things easier for the owner. However, considering that these frogs are vulnerable to becoming endangered, it would not be wise to house them as pets.

Did you know...

While a group of frogs is called an army, a group of toads is called a knot.

The golden poison frog (Phyllobates terribilis) of the family Dendrobatidae is considered to be one of the most poisonous animals on Earth. The golden poison frogs are endemic to the Pacific coast of Colombia, South America.

French naturalist and explorer Alfred Grandidier first described the Malagasy mantella between 1866-1872.

When frogs swallow their meal, their bulging eyeballs close and sink into their head. The pressure applied by the eyeballs helps the frogs push the food down their throats.

While the Malagasy mantella bears resemblance to Baron's mantella (Mantella baroni), the golden mantellas have evolved to be very similar in behavior and appearance to the South American poison frogs. The golden mantella frogs are highly toxic as well.

Where is the mantella found?

Mantella frogs are endemic to the island of Madagascar, off the East African coast in the Indian Ocean.

Who eats painted mantella?

While the colorful patterns on the painted mantella work wonders to ward off any predator, they may be preyed on by snakes, birds, and small mammals. 

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other amphibians from our cape rain frog facts and European green toad facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable mantella coloring pages.

Main image by Charles J. Sharp.

Second image by Fice.

We've been unable to source an image of a painted mantella and have used an image of a Mantella baroni instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of a painted mantella, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at

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Written by Georgia Stone

Bachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

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Georgia StoneBachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

Georgia is an experienced Content Manager with a degree in French and Film Studies from King's College London and Bachelors degree from Université Paris-Sorbonne. Her passion for exploring the world and experiencing different cultures was sparked during her childhood in Switzerland and her year abroad in Paris. In her spare time, Georgia enjoys using London's excellent travel connections to explore further afield.

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