Toxic Sugary Frogs
These frogs - relatives of the infamous S American poison-dart variety - also have toxins in their skins, the vibrant colours meant to warn off creatures intent on eating them.
Toxic Sugary Frogs
Mantella frogs from Madagascar are truly tiny amphibians, among the most brightly coloured and spectacular of all frog species, having skin that contains sucrose, first creature ever discovered to produce this substance normally attributed only to plants.
Not that tasting that sweet sweat would be a good idea, because it comes with an unpleasant surprise, because these frogs - relatives of the infamous S American poison-dart variety - also have toxins in their skins, the vibrant colours meant to warn off creatures intent on eating them.
These gorgeous little creatures come in various colour combinations, the tiny frogs found only on the island of Madagascar. Many of them do secrete poisons - alkaloid toxins absorbed from insects, mostly ants, which are then used for their own chemical defences. By no means as fatally toxic as their S. American cousins, Mantella frogs poisons will, at the very least, put anything tasting them off in a sickening way.
Human activity does impact on the level of toxicity exhibited by these creatures, for those living in areas untouched by humanity tend toward more bodily alkaloid toxins than those living in polluted areas. In a strange twist, it is the contamination that comes with human habitation that causes this, as many frog prey items get killed off, so fewer alkaloids get absorbed and less poison is produced.
All populations of these tiny creatures are small, so the slightest of problems or pollutants can lead to their extinction, and 11 species are indeed in categories of at critical risk, highly endangered, or most vulnerable, all because of habitat loss, contamination, the introduction of foreign species, global warming, and, most alarmingly, their capture for the pet trade.
Golden Mantella frogs, like some other species, can be found only in very tiny, highly limited areas of the island, meaning that over-collection by people wanting to have them as pets can devastate populations. There is a breeding programme involving two Mantella species being conducted at San Diego Zoo, but the problems in the wild for these glorious little creatures continue to be severe.
Anything that can be done to help preserve these rain-forest jewels for future generations should be undertaken with all speed, before yet another set of examples of the wonders of nature is allowed to disappear forever because of the thoughtless and destructive expansionism of the human race.