Blue-Legged Mantella

Blue-Legged Mantella


Endemic to the southwestern side of Madagascar


Small, temporary streams and small pools


These beautiful frogs have a greenish-yellow back contrasting with dark blue hind legs and black side. The males are a little smaller than females and have an obvious horseshoe-shaped blue spot on the lower throat. Both sexes have a light stripe along the upper lip. Colors can vary between individuals.


Although not related to the poison dart frogs of South America, this frog also possesses poison in its skin. Its bright colors serve as a warning to predators that it is poisonous. The toxins come from the prey that it eats.


The rains from October to December stimulate egg-laying. The males call continuously to attract females. If another male mantella wanders into guarded territory, the owner wrestles with him and pushes him back out.

The females emerge from their refuges to lay two to six clutches of over 35 eggs. The male frogs than guard the eggs until they hatch. The tadpoles hatch a few days later. The rain washes the young into pools nearby. Here they eat algae. Within six to eight weeks they have changed from tadpoles to froglets about the size of dime and weighing about as much as a small paperclip.

Unlike their parents, the froglets change from a blackish color to their adult colors over the next few months.

Interesting Facts:
  • A mantella frog’s bright coloration serves as warning coloration to predators. Since it is most easily seen during the day, these frogs are diurnal and hunt during the day. Most other frog species are nocturnal and hunt at night.
  • Madagascar is home to 16 species of mantella frogs, which are endemic to the country, but collection for pet trade and deforestation are threatening their survival.
  • Chytrid fungus has not yet spread to Madagascar, but if it does, the effect would be devastating. Because Mantella populations are so fragmented, they could easily be wiped out by the fungus.
  • For many years, scientists believed that Madagascar’s mantellas and South America's poison frogs were closely related. But DNA studies have shown that they are only distant relatives with similar bright, warning colors.
  • A group of mantella frogs is called an army.
Blue-Legged Mantella

The blue-legged mantella is critically endangered. This is due to habitat loss as a result of grazing, fires and sapphire mining, as well as, collection for the pet trade

What can you do to save frogs? If you’re buying them as pets, it’s important to find out where they came from. Make sure you get your frogs from a trusted captive breeding source and avoid buying frogs caught in the wild.

Blue-Legged Mantella
Class: amphibians
Order: Anura
Family: Mantella
Genus: Mantella
Species: expectata
Length: 20 – 30 mm
Weight: 1 – 3 g
Wild Diet: Ants, termites, fruit flies

This is an ssp animal

USFWS Status: Endangered
CITES Status: Appendix II
Where at the Zoo? Small Animal Building

Learn more about amphibians or animals from Africa!
Or, cross-reference the two!