top of page

3- Mantella laevigata - The Climbing Mantella

Methuen & Hewitt, 1913

Especially the island Nosy Mangabe, part of Masoala national park, is famous for its high incidence of climbing Mantellas. In March and October, you can watch these small frogs during the day en mass along the thick foliage layer, on tree trunks and mossy stems around the island. It occurs also in Marojejy national park, Mananara and Tsararano, but you will have much more difficulties to find a climbing Mantella there. It inhabits no other places worldwide.


The climbing Mantella is probably one of the best researched Mantella of Madagascar, surely thanks to its for Mantella unusual lifestyle. Indeed it is a terrestrial frog of rainforests like all Mantella, but in contrast climbs trees. It has been found up to four metres in height! Additionally, climbing Mantellas do not need streams or running water to reproduce and survive: That seems to be incredible for such a frog.


During breeding season at the beginning and the end of the rainy season, every male calls loudly at a egg laying place he selected himself. The call attracts females – but also other males. If another male approaches the chosen tree whole, they tend to fight for the place. Who defended his tree whole and a female successfully, fertilizes his Mantella’s eggs after a short amplexus. Egg laying is distinctly contrary in the climbing Mantella than in others of its kind: Instead of hiding a bunch of eggs deep in the foliage, the females glues only one egg – sometimes even two – some centimeters above the water in a small, water-filled tree trunk or bamboo hole. Sometimes the eggs dry out by the sun. But in those which develop successfully, you can watch an embryo from the second day on.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The Climbing Mantella (Mantella laevigata) is a species of frog in the Mantellidae family. It is endemic to Madagascar. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Climbing Mantella

Conservation status :




Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)

Scientific classification :







Species:M. laevigata

Binomial name :

Mantella laevigata
Methuen & Hewitt, 1913

Video : 

For the external links , refrences  click here to read the full wikipedia article 

Mantella laevigata wild at Nosy Mangabe, Madagascar

Care Articles : 


1- Climbing Mantella

courtesy to :



The Climbing Mantella, Mantella laevigata, is a species of Mantella native to northeastern Madagascar. It is thought to be the sister taxon of M. expectata. M. laevigata is threatened by habitat loss, chytridiomycosis, and illegal exportation. It is occasionally kept as a pet by herpetoculturists.

Climbing Mantella

Physical description:

Binomial nameMantella laevigata

HabitatTropical rainforest

Lifespan8-12 years

Average Size2.5-3.0 cm (1.0-1.2 in)

Average weight1.3-2.5 grams


Conservational Status


IUCN status3.1

Scientific classification :







SpeciesM. laevigata

Distribution :

Distribution of speciesNortheastern Madagascar

Poison :


The climbing Mantella produces pumiliotoxin, a potent nerve poison manufactured and stored in subcutaneous membranes and secreted through a modified layer of epidermis. Mantella laevigata, while not the most toxic poison dart frog, is still a highly toxic animal. The very small amount of poison the frog possesses is still enough to make a human ill. Like most Mantellas, however, M. laevigata will only release its poison if it feels that it is threatened, and wild specimens can be handled if the human holding it is calm and relaxed. The climbing Mantella, as with all Mantellas, loses its toxicity in captivity due to a change in diet. This has led scientists to believe that laevigata actually takes its poison from the insects it feeds on.


Pumiliotoxin is deadly in high concentrations. Pumiliotoxin is weaker than allopumiliotoxin and especially batrachotoxin, with a lethal dose of 2 mg (M. laevigata carries about two thirds of a milligram). There are three different types of this toxin A, B and C. Toxins A and B are significantly more toxic than C. Pumiliotoxins affect the body because they interfere with muscle contraction in the heart and skeletal muscle. The toxin works by affecting the calcium channels. Some of the symptoms of pumiliotoxins are partial paralysis, having difficulty moving, being hyperactive and in some cases it can result in death.

Description :


The climbing Mantella is one of the larger Mantellas, with males reaching a length of 2.5 cm and females reaching a length of 3.0 cm. Males are more slimline than females, but both sexes are comparatively thin. Unlike some other Mantellas, size is one of the more consistent means of sexing M. laevigata.


Mantella laevigata is more consistently coloured than many other Mantellas, and there is little variation between individuals. The lower dorsum, flanks, belly, and limbs are solid black, and the upper dorsum and the top of the head are green. The green may be yellowish, lime, or bright and often catches the eye, advertising the frogs' toxicity.

Wild specimen in Madagascar.

While it is genetically close to the blue-legged Mantella, the climbing Mantella has a markedly different appearence. In addition to having different colouration, climbing Mantellas are often thinner and more elongated in appearence. Also, their calls are shorter, higher-pitched, and much more rapid than the calls of blue-legged Mantellas.

Behaviour :


The climbing Mantella is a primarily arboreal frog, living on low-growing plants and into the understory of the rainforest; only very occasionally are they seen on the forest floor. Mantella laevigata is a communal frog, living in small groups of interacting individuals. These groups are not territorial, and family groups of climbing Mantellas may live alongside one another. During the breeding season Mantella laevigata become territorial and aggressive, but during the majority of the year they are not excessively so.

Reproduction :


As with Mantella expectata, the climbing Mantella has an unusual reproductive cycle, comparable to that of the unrelated poison dart frog, Oophaga lehmanni.


The first stage of the breeding cycle is similar to that of most other Mantellas. At the beginning of the rainy season, groups of M. expectata gather around damaged bamboo. As the rain starts falling, males begin to call to females with a sound that has been described as like pebbles clicking together. Males will wrestle in order to clear breeding spaces, but injuries rarely result from such conflicts. Larger and more powerful males are more popular among females, and females may grapple to mate with a single male.


Once the courtship is complete, the female lays a single egg inside a pool of water that accumulates in the centre of a bamboo stem. The male fertilizes the egg, and then leaves the female to care for it. The female protects the egg, and when it hatches, she produces unfertilized eggs for the tadpole to eat. When the tadpole metamorphoses into a froglet, the froglet is led by the female to an existing group.


In captivity :


Wild-caught M. laevigata are frequently encountered in the 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.

Captive specimen

2- Against the tide: A climbing Mantella

courtesy to :


Actually, Madagascan Mantellae all look very similar: Striking colours, small and slender, terrestrial frogs. But one steps out the line: The climbing Mantella (Mantella laevigata). This Mantella was described in 1913 by British zoologists Paul Ashleyford Methuen and John Hewitt, who did a seven months lasting expedition to Madagascar two years ago. The climbing Mantella grows up to maximally 29 mm and wears bright yellow colour at head and back, as well as blue spots on hands and feet. The rest of the frog is brownish black – so far, so similar to other Mantella. The colour is thought to repel natural enemies, such as birds or chameleons, and signals poison. Indeed Mantella produce a poisonous alcaloid in their skin, but it is completely harmless for humans.

Two to embrace Mantella

After some weeks, the tadpoles hatches and directly falls into the water beneath. It feeds on everything small enough that falls into the tree hole or bamboo trunk. Often the female climbing Mantella brings unfertilized eggs to its offspring as food. The male climbing Mantella rests nearby and defends the hole against intruders. Thus Mantella laevigata is the only Mantella of which we know such a parental care behaviour. It takes almost two months to grow from a tadpole to a complete frog, they are not full grown before on year. The adult climbing Mantellas feed on ants, termites and mites, but do not reject other tiny insectslike flies.

Calling male

IUCN lists this species as “near threatened” on its red list – together with the hint, that it might be on a higher threatening level in some years. The habitat of this small frog today is not larger than 20.000 km². Scientsists assume that this species cannot survive in destroyed areas after slash-and-burning or where cattle grazes. Only shelters like the island Nosy Mangabe will be able to keep this wonderful Mantella, so that people can gaze at it even in one hundred years from now. Since some years, the species has been keeping and breeding in captivity outside Madagascar successfully, too.

3- Mantella laevigata 

the Climbinh Mantella 

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.



Madagascar Dart frogs


Aromobatidae :

 South America Dart Frogs -  Species 


Dendrobatidae :

bottom of page