An army of critically endangered Golden Mantella frogs are making a splash at The National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham.
The rare creatures, which are classified as facing a high risk of extinction on the IUCN Red List, are usually found in the tropical forests of Madagascar.
At up to just 3 centimetres long, a vivid golden-orange colour and with a distinct clicking call to attract mates, the frogs live in groups with twice as many males as females.
But as The National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham’s Conservation team strives to protect the endangered species, the fascinating frogs have swapped their swampy waters for a protected home-from-home environment in which they can breed.
Golden Mantella are under major threat from habitat destruction resulting from the draining of wetlands for farming and the construction of roads. The amphibians are also in decline due to capture for the pet trade in the 1980s and 90s.
The National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham is determined to address this and has embarked on a controlled breeding programme to save the species from extinction. Aquarist Dan McLaughlan, who has worked at the popular attraction for 16 months, said the frogs are extremely active – awake and energetic throughout the day. “They are very exciting to look after and one of my favourite animals here,” said Dan. “Golden Mantella only eat live food such as fruitflies, springtails and hatchling crickets, as they recognise food by how it moves and not by its colour or smell. They are fascinating to watch.”
He added: “We have worked hard to create a natural environment for them, maintaining the correct humidity, temperature and UV exposure. It is crucial that we keep such endangered species with us and carefully control the breeding programme to ensure that the Golden Mantellas have similar genetics to those in the wild.”
The National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham’s conservation successes include breeding, re-homing and seal rescue programmes that have been recognised by many important conservation groups including Greenpeace, The Marine Conservation Society and The Wildlife Trust.
A visit to the centre provides a fun and informative day out for all the family. It is home to over 2,000 creatures, including sharks, a rescued giant green sea turtle, otters, jellyfish, piranha, octopus and rays.