A CRITICALLY endangered species of Madagascan frog has bred successfully for the first time at Scotland’s national aquarium.
More than 50 tiny golden mantella tadpoles have been born at Deep Sea World inNorth Queensferry.
Zoologists at the aquarium are now waiting anxiously to see how many of the tadpoles, which measure less than 10mm in length, will metamorphose into froglets.
The golden mantella frog is only found in the high forests of Eastern Madagascar. The frogs are confined to a fragment of forest which is surrounded by farmland, and human settlements and is threatened by logging.
DeepSeaWorld’s Zoological Manager Chris Smith, said: “We have been looking after a group of seven adult frogs here for the past four years and this is the first time they have bred.
“It’s a fantastic achievement and we are now talking to other captive breeding programmes around the world to try and ensure as many of the tadpoles as possible reach maturity.
“If all goes well these tadpoles should start to change into froglets in the next two months,” he added.
As its name suggests, the frog is a bright golden colour and, although not toxic, it is thought the frog may mimic the vivid colouration of poison frogs to fool would-be predators.
The adult frogs are totally land-based and don’t have webbed feet. In the wild the eggs are laid on the forest floor and the tadpoles have to find their own way to the water.
Unlike some species of frog the golden mantella is not a great parent and once the eggs have been laid they are left to fend for themselves. They live in small groups, known as ‘armies’ which usually contain twice as many males than females.