Tag Archive: Rainforest Madagascar

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Mantodea
Family: Hymenopodidae
Subfamily: Epaphroditinae

Genus/species: Phyllocrania paradoxa

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: This is a miniature species of leaf mantis, growing to under 5 cm (2 in). Theses mantids exhibit sexual dimorphism with females being longer and having a wider abdomen than males. Colors can vary from grey/green to dark brown or almost black. Colors are dependent on humidity and light levels. Ghost mantids have leaf-like head and shoulder shields, and leaf-like protrusions hanging from their limbs. This “dead-leaf” appearance makes it very difficult to see. The scientific name is probably derived from Greek for “leaf “(phyllo) and Latin for “head” (crania).

Phyllocrania paradoxa6319511720_e34688f6b4_b

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: P. paradoxa are found in the warm, highly humid tropical forests of Tropical Africa including Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, and Somalia.

DIET IN THE WILD: This species will eat almost anything that moves, and it is very, very fast. When another insect comes within striking distance, the mantid flicks out the long front legs, and grabs it in a fraction of a second. They are remarkably patient, and will sit in the same position for weeks, just waiting for something to land near them.

DIET IN CAPTIVITY: Drosophila (fruit flies), houseflies, crickets, and flour worms.

MORTALITY and LONGEVITY: Generally a long-lived species.  Molt every 3–5 weeks, until the 4th and final molting.  Life span: up to 14 months in captivity.

REPRODUCTION: In general mantids reproductive organs are found at the tip of their abdomen. Females attract males with pheromones, there is a brief courtship dance, and the male alights on the female’s back. After delivering sperm, the male usually hurries away as females are known to consume their mates! After fertilization the female deposits batches of eggs, using an ovipositor at the tip of her abdomen. The eggs stick to stems and leaves, and each batch is housed in an egg case made from an abdominal secretion that hardens to protect the eggs from birds and other predators. After about a month the nymphs hatch and then molt several times, each time becoming more like the adult form. 

Juvenile below

Color of Life Note: Ghost mantids exhibit cryptic coloration (conceals or disguises an animal’s shape). They look like a vine draped on tree and bush branches.


LOCATION: Madagascar Rainforest


References. California Academy of Sciences Docent Rainforest Training Manual.

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/4333501334/in/set-72157620708610230/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-eK

Encyclopedia of Life  http://eol.org/pages/3489690/details

ADW Animal Diversity Web animaldiversity.org/accounts/Phyllocrania_paradoxa/classi…



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Mantellidae

Genus/species: Mantella aurantiaca

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Color may be yellow, orange or gold. Eyes are black. Juveniles are black and green. Length to 3 cm (1.25 in).


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Endemic and very limited in west-central Madagascar. Found on sunny patches in the high montane rainforest (900 meters or 2950 feet)). Entirely terrestrial. Diurnally active.

DIET IN THE WILD: M. aurantiaca are entirely insectivorous. A diet commonly consists of termites (Isoptera), ants (Formicidae), fruitflies (Drosphila), and just about any other arthropod that can be fit into the mouth. Golden mantellas are known for attempting to eat anything, even if the taste is repulsive

PREDATORS: M. aurantiacas aposematic coloration, advertises the toxicity of skin secretions that protect it from most predators.

REPRODUCTION: Lays eggs on leaf litter during the rainy season. Egg mass requires high humidity, warmth and no direct sunlight, but not immersion. At about 10 days larvae have absorbed much of their yolk sac, the jelly surrounding the eggs liquefies and forms a communal pool for the clutch. A few days later tadpoles are washed into small pools by rain.

LIFE SPAN: About 8 years

Golden Mantella Frog9130971576_83b4631fe8_k


CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List: Critically Endangered   CITES Appendix II.
Though abundant in small areas, their distribution is extremely fragmented and limited to just a few hectares surrounded by land degraded by agriculture, timber extraction, fire, and expanding development. The pet trade until recently posed a threat to the wild population, but export has been successfully limited. The species is also being maintained and bred in captivity by some 35 zoos, aquaria, and other institutions.

REMARKS: Members of the genus Mantella have evolved to be very similar in appearance and behavior to the very distantly related poison arrow frogs of South America (family Dendrobatidae). Several species of each group are on display in the Rainforest.

Color of Life Note,  Color communicates anti-predator adaptations.: Animals with bright distinctive colors can be a warning to predators as a warning of toxicity. In the case of the Golden Mantella toxic skin secretions are an example of aposematism.
Ref: California Academy of Sciences, Color of Life Exhibit 2015

Madagascar Rainforest MA14


 Animal Diversity Web animaldiversity.org/accounts/Mantella_aurantiaca/

 ARKive  www.arkive.org/golden-frog/mantella-aurantiaca/

 California Academy of Sciences Docent Rainforest Training Manual 2014.

Ron’s flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608456457315/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-N5

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class; Reptilia
Order; Squamata (scaled reptiles, all lizards and snakes)
Suborder; Iguania
Family: Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons)

Genus/species: Brookesia stumpffi

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: This small chameleon grows up to 9 cm (3.5 in).


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Northern Madagascar and on several offshore islands. Commonly found in primary rainforest, dry forests, and secondary vegetation.

DIET IN THE WILD: It hunts in the leaf litter of the forest floor during the day, where it feeds on insects such a crickets, cockroaches, grasshoppers, and moths. At night it sleeps on branches of small shrubs about 30–80 cm (1–3 ft) above the ground.

PREDATORS: Probably snakes, birds, small mammals.

REPRODUCTION: Females lay between 3 to 5 eggs in depressions under dead leaves on the forest floor. 

LIFE SPAN: About 3 years.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List) Least Concern (LC).   This chameleon occurs in a fairly large area and seems relatively adaptable to disturbed habitats; however, its popularity in the pet trade as well as pressure from slash and burn farming pose possible threats

REMARKS: Can rapidly change colors to blend with the forest leaf litter to avoid predators. 

When disturbed these chameleons will play dead, resembling a fallen leaf. The Brookesia species are often called “leaf chameleons” because their small body and morphology resembling a leaf makes them highly cryptic when on the ground. 

Madagascar MA14 


California Academy of Sciences Docent Rainforest Training Manual 2014

IUCN Red List  www.iucnredlist.org/details/176297/0

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/1057220/details

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/16273325375/in/album-72157620708610230/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink   http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1sE



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Sauria
Infraorder: Gekkota
Family: Gekkonidae

Genus/species: Blaseodactylus salalava


DISTRIBUTION: Southwest Madagascar.


Madagascar MA10

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Hyperoliidae (African Tree Frogs)

Genus/species: Heterixalus madagascariensis


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Though color can change depending on environmental conditions, the back is usually uniformly white, gray, or sometimes yellow. Thighs and the undersides of legs and feet are orange. A dark band extends between the nostril and eye. Males to 3.5 cm (1.35 inches) snout to vent; females to 4 cm (1.5 inches).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Endemic to Madagascar. Found along the northeast coast near rainforest edges, in dry forested areas, and coastal forests as well as deforested areas, crop lands, and even urban areas.

DIET IN THE WILD: A nocturnal and semi-arboreal hunter of insects, it readily eats insects as big as its own head.

REMARKS: All of the 11 known species of the genus Heterixalus are endemic to Madagascar. Reed frogs spend days resting or sleeping in the sun, frequently perched on emergent vegetation of swamps and ponds, thus the common name “reed frogs.”

Rainforest, Madagascar MA12


IUCN Red List www.iucnredlist.org/details/56102/0

Amphibia Web  http://amphibiaweb.org/cgi/amphib_query?where-genus=Heterixalus&where-species=madagascariensis

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/4813851121/in/set-72157620708610230

Ron’s WordPress shortlink   http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-MX

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Hyperoliidae

Genus/species: Heterixalus alboguttatus

Starry Night Reed Frog IMG_7439

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS:  Back or dark grey, with orange spots in the shade and whitish with yellow spots (bordered with black) in the sun. Thighs, ventral surface of limbs, and hands and feet are orange.  Length females to 33 mm (1.3 inches).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT:  Southeastern lowlands of Madagascar from sea level up to at least 800m (2600 feet).  It is a species of open areas, including savannahs, degraded habitats, agricultural areas, grasslands, and rice fields. They inhabit riparian zones, where a body of water (mainly a pond) meets the land. Among emergent vegetation, reed frogs spend the day sleeping on the underside of leaves.


Heterixalus alboguttatus14224581291_df17a8b4da_o

REPRODUCTION: H. alboguttatus breeds in a wide variety of temporary and permanent water bodies, including rice fields. They are very easy to breed in captivity.

Has a wide distribution, tolerance of a broad range of habitats and presumed large population. Starry night reed frogs have been imported directly from Madagascar several times over the past decade. These imports are the foundation of the captive population of H. alboguttatus in the United States today.

Madagascar MA12


IUCN Red List  www.iucnredlist.org/details/56096/0

Amphibiaweb  amphibiaweb.org/cgi/amphib_query?where-genus=Heterixalus&…

Josh’s Frogs  www.joshsfrogs.com/starry-night-reed-frog-sexed-trio.html

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/14224581291/in/album-72157620708610230/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-119

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Microhylidae

Genus/species: Dyscophus antongilli


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Female is larger with vivid orange-red body (looking not unlike a rather oddly shaped ripe tomato); male less brightly colored. Flat head. Length to 12 cm (4.6 inches).

Very similar and possibly conspecific to D. guineti which differs by color pattern.


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Northeast Madagascar primarily terrestrial in lowland habitats.It appears to be localized to sandy ground near the coast, and breeds in ditches, flooded areas, swamps, and temporary and permanent still or very slowly flowing water. Buries itself in soil during the day; feeds nocturnally. Found at sea level to elevations of around 200 meters (650 feet).



REPRODUCTION: Breeds in pools and ditches after heavy rainfall. Lays eggs in water during the rainy season. Fertilized eggs hatch into free-swimming tadpoles.

MORTALITY: Estimated to live ~10 years in the wild.


CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List Nearly Threatened (NT) CITES Appendix I

Pollution of water bodies is a potential threat, and in the past this species was subject to collection for international trade, although this is now largely under control and restricted.

The Baltimore Zoo is actively involved in several other tomato frog conservation projects.

REMARKS: When alarmed, secretes a very sticky goo onto its skin, a defense against predators which also may substance may produce allergic reactions in humans. When threatened, these frogs can inflate themselves, giving the appearance of greater size.

Madagascar MA08


EOL  eol.org/pages/333037/details

IUCN Red List www.iucnredlist.org/details/6937/0

University of Michigan www.umich.edu/~esupdate/library/97.09-10/wisnieski.html

AmphibiaWeb  amphibiaweb.org/cgi/amphib_query?where-genus=Dyscophus&am…

ARKive www.arkive.org/tomato-frog/dyscophus-antongilii/image-G11...

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/3284963093/in/set-72157620708610230/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1si



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum:  Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Mantellidae

Genus/species: Mantella viridis

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The back and sides are yellow-green; ventral parts are black with blue spots. The toes are not webbed. A light stripe runs along the upper lip. M. viridis is one of the biggest of the Madagascar mantella frogs; max length: 3.5 cm (1.37 inches).


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Endemic to Madagascar. Inhabits deciduous forests. Usually found around temporary streams. Also lives in degraded mango plantations.

DIET IN THE WILD: Diurnal predators, eating mainly insects, ants, and termites. May also eat fruit that has fallen to the ground.

REPRODUCTION: Between 15 and 60 greenish-yellow eggs are laid in cavities under rocks and in the trunks of dead trees. They hatch into tadpoles during heavy rainfall, which washes them into small pools of water (

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List Endangered (EN)
The main threat is habitat loss, due to the impacts of fires, logging and livestock grazing. It is also affected by the drying out of smaller streams following forest loss. It has been recorded in the pet trade in relatively large numbers, although this is now greatly reduced.

REMARKS: Many species of tropical frogs sequester toxins in their skins. In most cases these toxins come from eating toxic arthropods such as ants. During the past 30 years, over 400
alkaloids of over 20 structural classes have been detected. The skin of Mantella viridis has been shown to contain such toxins.


Rainforest Madagascar Exhibit MA10


ARKive  www.arkive.org/green-mantella/mantella-viridis/

IUCN Red List: www.iucnredlist.org/details/57451/0

flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608456457315/with/3708490144/

WordPress Shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-Na

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia (snakes, worm lizards, lizards, alligators, caimans, crocodiles, tortoises, turtles, and tuataras)
Order: Squamata (scaled reptiles, all lizards and snakes)
Family: Gekkonidae
Subfamily: Gekkoninae (Geckos)

Genus/species: Phelsuma grandis

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Largest species of the genus Phelsuma, 23–27 cm (9-10.6 in). They are bright green, with granular red spots on the body and a red line running from the eye to the tip of the nose. Eye color is much like the skin color. blending into their heads and surroundings. The eyes are surrounded by blue rings, have round pupils, indicative of a diurnal life style.


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Northern Madagascar, Seychelles, and smaller islands close to Madagascar. Found in the canopy of tropical rain forests and on the walls of buildings in towns and villages.

DIET IN THE WILD: Mostly insects and other invertebrates; also soft sweet fruit, nectar, and pollen.

REPRODUCTION: Breeding season is between November and the first weeks of May. During this period, the females lay up to 6 pairs of eggs which hatch after approximately two months.

MORTALITY AND LONGEVITY: They live up to 10 years in captivity.


CONSERVATION: Widespread in northern common and tolerant of disturbance within its known range. There are no known major threats.

REMARKS Many geckos can make sounds to attract mates, to advertise their territories, to warn off unwanted intruders or to frighten predators. Geckos do not have eyelids. Instead the lids have fused, and the eye is covered with a large transparent scale. Geckos keep their eyes clean by licking them with their broad flat tongues.

Madagascar MA08


California Academy of Sciences Docent Rainforest Training Manual 2014

IUCN Red List Least Concern (LC) www.iucnredlist.org/details/193490/0

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/2448279/details

Ron’s WordPress shortlink http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-U7

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/16492091872/in/set-72157620708610230/

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia (snakes, worm lizards, lizards, alligators, caimans, crocodiles, tortoises, turtles, and tuataras)
Order: Squamata (Lizards and Snakes)
Suborder Sauria (Lizards)
Family: Gekkonidae (Geckos)

Genus/species: Uroplatus henkeli

Henkel's Leaf-tailed Gecko 4226839485_62145bf20d_b

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS A master of camouflage: its grey-brown skin blends in with the colors of tree bark. The fringes of skin along its head and body mask shadows by breaking up the. outlines of its body. The charcoal/light grey patterns on some individuals’ bodies look like lichen. The short flat tail, for which the genus was named (uro – “flat,” platus – “tail”), looks like a dead leaf. The bulging eyes on its flat triangular head have pupils with vertical slits, an indication of a nocturnal life style. Size to 255 mm (10 inches).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT Madagascar rainforest vegetation just a few metres off the ground

DIET IN THE WILD Nocturnal predator, eats mainly insects.

Henkel's leaf-tailed  Gecko  Uroplatus henkeli IMG_0394

REPRODUCTION: Eggs are deposited on the forest floor hidden under fallen leaves, beneath pieces of wood, or among dead leaves still attached to a plant. Juveniles hatch following a three-month incubation period.

MORTALITY Life span in the wild believed to be 3–5 years. Species has lived up to 15 years in captivity.

CONSERVATION IUCN Vulnerable from continued destruction of Madagascar forests. 

Listed in Appendix II of CITES.


REMARKS: To help escape predators. Like most lizard species, geckos can shed their tails. A new, shorter tail composed of cartilage will grow back. It can also frighten enemies by opening its mouth wide revealing a bright red interior. Also some geckos, including this one, have vocal cords, the only lizards that do. Its defensive behavior is often accompanied by loud distress calls.

Henkel's Leaf-tailed Gecko IMG_0742

Madagascar MAO7


California Academy of Sciences  Docent Rainforest Training Manual 2014

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/961880/details

IUCN Red List:  www.iucnredlist.org/details/178653/0

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-Uo

Ron’s flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608449603666/with/4226839485/

%d bloggers like this: