Mantellas are colorful frogs found in Madagascar. Because of their colorings, many people think they are poison arrow frogs, but this is an entirely different species. They stay small and do not need a huge tank, but their hunting skills and active bodies are a joy to watch.
The mantella can be a variety of colors from green to a dazzling orange and anywhere in between. Red, yellow, and orange are the most common colors these frogs come in. They all have unique blotches of color on top a glossy black body. Their colors make up for their size, because adult mantellas will only get to about an inch long, and most could sit on your thumbnail. There are 16 different species of mantella that vary in color and size, and all but one is a terrestrial animal.
An American toad, with the proper care can live for many long years in captivity. Just because they are common around America does not mean they are disposable pets.
Because of their size, mantellas are not meant for handling. They are squirmish, and skittery because they consider your hand to be a predator. Try to avoid handling these delicate frogs. They are more of a look-not-touch animal.
The common food for mantellas is crickets. These crickets should be easy for them to swallow but not filling enough. Adults should be fed every few days, as much as they will eat in 15 minutes. Some species will never stop eating, while others are very picky about what goes into them. Remove any leftover crickets for the next feeding. Gut load all the insects properly. Feed them commercial crickets food or lettuce and carrots. Every few feedings, the insects should be dusted with a calcium supplement that they would find in the wild.
Being the small amphibians they are, large tanks are not required. A 5 or 10 gallon enclosure works fine for a couple of frogs. The enclosure should be vertically oriented because they spend much of their time off of the ground. This means a tight fitting screen lid is essential. Branches and plants live or fake, should fill the space of the enclosure. Live plants also aid in keeping the humidity up, and give the frogs a place to bask.
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The substrate should hold and release humidity. Paper towels are a common choice, and they are easy to replace. If you want more natural look non-fertilized potting soil mixed with a little orchard bark also works well.
If you choose the more elaborate substrate, a drainage layer made of medium pebbles with a fine mesh screen on top will help drain any extra water. This will erase the problem of fungus or mold.
Mantellas can be shy, or curious depending on the species. A piece cork bark and a coconut hide should be adequate for shelter as long as you have plenty of foliage. A drift wood log to hide under can also be used.
Most mantellas prefer temperatures from 72-76F. Some keepers may not need a heat source at all. Lighting is important for this species though. A bulb that is on 12 hours a day with a low wattage works fine. If you do need a little heat, buy a slightly more powerful bulb.
These frogs like their humidity. 80-100% humidity is required, and this can be achieved if you mist at least twice a day. Most species will drink water from the droplets created by the mister, but they may also use a water bowl if provided.
Use bottled water instead of tap because tap may have unhealthy chemicals or amounts of chlorine that can be absorbed through their skin. Be sure to always have clean water in the water bowl.
Cleaning is fairly simple. Paper towel should be replaced when soiled, and loose substrates every 2-4 months. Always provide fresh water, and spot clean daily.
Before breeding, make sure you have two of the same species of mantella, and that you have a large group. If you have a group, the chance you get eggs is much greater, and it stimulates what it would be like in the wild. Once you lower the photoperiod down to 8 hours a day gradually, males will become territorial, and start their croaking.
When the male has found a female, he will mount her, preparing to fertilize the eggs she will lay. The eggs will be dropped in a hole or crevice somewhere in the tank. Depending on the species, some will lay 15 and others will lay over 100 each. You will have to remove the entire object that the eggs have been laid in, and place it into a new aquarium where the eggs can hatch.
In this new aquarium, the log or rock should be completely submerged so the tadpoles can swim out and begin feeding. They will take finely crushed fish flakes. Once they start developing into froglets, they should be mover to an aquarium with land, and rocks in the water. Once they can emerge completely onto land, begin feeding them fruit flies and small crickets. Make sure they all get food, and that cannibalism does not occur.
Mantellas are small, colorful little frogs. They are intermediate to keep, and vary slightly by species. This is just a general overview or the species as a whole, and there may be care sheets out there directed to the types of mantellas available. Remember, do your research before buying any pet so they can live a long happy life.