Mantella laevigata

Description: Mantella laevigata is a unique member of the genus, being semi-arboreal. This is obvious not only from their behavior, but also from the presence of enlarged toe pads which help them climb. They are medium-sized, with the largest individuals growing to 29 mm (1.1 inches), most staying smaller. Typically, M. laevigata has a green or yellow head and dorsum, which contrasts sharply with the black sides of their body. Their limbs are also black, but often have a slightly metallic or coppery appearance.

An interesting breeding method is employed by M. laevigata, different from all other Mantella species. They breed in water-filled holes above ground, often cavities within a broken piece of bamboo or tree. Tadpoles are deposited in these tiny reservoirs, and as they develop, the female returns to deposit infertile eggs for them to feed on. This form of parental care is also preformed by other species of frogs, most notably certain neotropical poison dart frogs (Dendrobatids)

Red List Conservation Status: Near Threatened

Distribution and Habitat: M. laevigata occupies a relatively large range throughout lowland rainforests in northeast Madagascar. Here they can be found in abundance around patches of bamboo.

Captive Care Notes: Wild-caught M. laevigata are frequently encountered in the North American pet trade during certain times of the year. Captive breeding is also occasionally achieved, and captive-bred frogs are periodically offered for sale. Because of their unique breeding habits, only small numbers of frogs are usually produced when compared with other species of mantellas that are bred, so although they seem to breed more consistently than some other species, there often are few captive-bred frogs available.

M. laevigata makes an interesting captive. They do best when provided with a vertically-oriented terrarium that includes plenty of branches and plants above ground. Hollow bamboo tubes can be included to provide breeding cavities similar to what they would utilize in the wild. Film canisters or plastic cups suction cupped to the side of the terrarium can work equally well, and allow the keeper to easily remove tadpoles as they are found. The tadpoles are not obligate egg-feeders, and will grow well on foods used to feed other larval Mantella species. Sometimes M. laevigata simply lays eggs on the substrate next to the water source in the cage, avoiding reservoirs altogether. Males are fairly bold and call in the open to defend territory, while females are much more reclusive. Being a mantella frog from low altitudes, they tolerate warm temperatures well. Daytime temperatures can reach 27°C (81°F) without problems, although they are best kept cooler, between 20°C and 26°C (68F° and 79°F) most of the time.


AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2007. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: (Accessed: March 8, 2007).

Staniszewski, Marc. Mantellas. Frankfurt, Germany: Chimaira, 2001.

Vences, M., F. Glaw & W. Böhme. 1999. A review of the genus Mantella (Anura, Ranidae, Mantellinae): taxonomy, distribution and conservation of Malagasy poison frogs. – Alytes 17 (1-2): 3-72.


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