A generally rather small and stout Mantella, 19-24 mm, females rarely can reach up to 31 mm. Dorsally uniformly yellow-orange, in some populations red-orange, often with a translucent shade. Bright red flashmarks present. Iris nearly uniformly black, only a little light pigment in its upper part. Ventrally uniform, similar to dorsal surface but generally somewhat lighter, except red flashmark (extended nearly on the whole tibia). Some inner organs visible through the slightly transparent ventral skin.
Similar species: The colouration of M. aurantiaca is unique.
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Madagascar
Andranomandry, Andranomena, Torotorofotsy. It occurs between 920-960m asl
in primary and secondary rainforest and usually damp, swampy areas, often associated with screw pine (Pandanus) forest (Vences et al. 2008).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The occurrence of this species is correlated with humid Pandanus forest, where it can be found in sun-exposed sites (Glaw and Vences 2006). Here Mantella aurantiaca can be heard calling from the ground, among vegetation in swampy areas (Glaw and Vences 2006). It is active during the day (Blommers-Schlösser and Blanc 1991; Glaw and Vences, pers. obs.).
Calls: Irregular series of short chirping notes. The call (from Andasibe) consists of a series of short notes (duration 50-60 ms). An oscillogram of one note shows that it consists of 3 very short clicks. Frequency ranges from about 4.5-6.5 kHz, dominant frequency is about 5.3kHz. Another analysis confirms that notes consist of 3 clicks, but shows a frequency band between 3 and 7 kHz (Glaw and Vences 1994; Ahl 1929). The call has also been described as an irregular succession of short chirps (Glaw and Vences 2006).
Eggs and tadpoles (from near Andasibe): Eggs are deposited in moist leaf litter outside of water. One clutch consists of 20-60 whitish eggs (diameter 1.5-2mm). Embryogenesis lasts 14 days and the tadpoles are flooded into small pools by heavy rain. The tadpoles develop within about 70 days into froglets measuring 11 mm (Glaw and Vences 1994). Frogs of the genus Mantella are sexually mature within a year after metamorphosis and thus have short generation times (Glaw et al. 2000).
The adult colouration is probably aposematic, as M. aurantiaca contains a variety of toxins in the skin, including pumiliotoxin, allopumiliotoxin and homopumiliotoxin alkaloids, as well as pyrrolizidines, indolizidines and quinolizidines (Daly et al. 1984, 1996; Garraffo et al. 1993). This toxicity is derived from dietary sources, as is the case with dendrobatid frogs (Daly et al. 1997). Captive-bred M. aurantiaca lack toxicity when fed non-toxic arthropods, but readily accumulate alkaloids when fed alkaloid-dusted fruit flies (Daly et al. 1997).
Trends and Threats
Critically Endangered: area of occupancy is probably less than 10km2. Its distribution is severely fragmented, and the extent of its forest habitat in east-central Madagascar is declining, and the number of mature individuals might also be declining through over-exploitation.It does not occur in protected areas, but it is found near to the Réserve Spéciale d’Analamazaotra. This species is being maintained in captivity by about 35 zoos and other institutions and is being bred in captivity by public institutions and many private individuals (Vences et al. 2008).
Relation to Humans
This species is collected for the pet trade and is commonly bred in captivity (Glaw et al. 2000). Commercial export of M. aurantiaca began in the late 1980s or early 1990s, but was halted in 2002 (CITES Secretariat 2008). Import of wild-caught specimens to the European Union has been banned since 2006 (CITES Secretariat 2008). There is thought to be little illegal trade of wild-caught specimens owing to the low price paid to Malagasy collectors plus the high sensitivity of mantellas to transport conditions (CITES Secretariat 2008).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Taken with permission from Glaw and Vences (2007).
Featured in Amazing Amphibians on 29 July 2013
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Andreone, F., Cadle, J. E., Cox, N., Glaw, F., Nussbaum, R. A., Raxworthy, C. J., Stuart, S. N., Vallan, D., and Vences, M. (2005). ''Species review of amphibian extinction risks in Madagascar: conclusions from the Global Amphibian Assessment.'' Conservation Biology, 19(6), 1790-1802.
Arnoult, J. (1966). ''Contribution a l'étude des batraciens de Madagascar. Écologie et développement des Mantella aurantiaca Mocquard 1900.'' Bulletin du Muséum National d’histoire Naturelle, Série 2, 37(6), 931-940.
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Glaw, F., Schmidt, K., and Vences, M. (2000). ''Nachzucht, Juvenilfärbung und Oophagie von Mantella laevigata im Vergleich zu anderen Arten der Gattung (Amphibia: Ranidae).'' Salamandra, 36, 1-24.
Glaw, F., and Vences, M. (2006). A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar, 3rd Edition. Vences & Glaw Verlag GbR, Köln.
Glaw, F., and Vences, M. (2007). Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Third Edition. Vences and Glaw Verlag, Köln.
Odierna, G., Vences, M., Aprea, G., Lötters, S., and Andreone, F. (2001). ''Chromosome data for Malagasy poison frogs (Amphibia: Ranidae: Mantella) and their bearing on taxonomy and phylogeny.'' Zoological Science, 18, 505-514.
Rabemananjara, F., Bora, P., Razafindrabe, T., Randriamitso, E., Ravoahangimalala Ramilijaona, O., Rasoamanpionona Raminosoa, N., Rakotondravony, D., Vieites, D.R., and Vences, M. (in press). Rapid assessments of population sizes in ten species of Malagasy poison frogs, genus Mantella. A Conservation Strategy for the Amphibians of Madagascar. Monografie del Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali di Torino, XLI.
Rabemananjara, F., Rasoamampionona Raminosoa, N., Ravoahangimalala Ramilijaona, O., Andreone, F., Bora, P., Carpenter, A.I., Glaw, F., Razafindrabe, T., Vallan, D., Vieites, D.R., and Vences, M. (2007). ''Malagasy poison frogs in the pet trade: a survey of levels of exploitation of species in the genus Mantella.'' Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, 5, 3-16.
Schaefer, H.-C., Vences, M., and Veith, M. (2002). ''Molecular phylogeny of Malagasy poison frogs, genus Mantella (Anura: Mantellidae): homoplastic evolution of colour pattern in aposematic amphibians.'' Organisms, Diversity and Evolution, 2, 97-105.
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Woodhead, C., Vences, M., Vieites, D. R., Gamboni, I., Fisher, B. L., and Griffiths, R. A. (2007). ''Specialist or generalist: feeding ecology of the Malagasy poison frog Mantella aurantiaca.'' Herpetological Journal, 17, 225-236.
Zimmermann, H. and Hetz, S. (1992). ''Vorläufige Bestandsaufnahme und Kartierung des gefährdeten Goldfröschchen, Mantella aurantiaca, im tropischen Regenwald Ost-Madagaskars.'' Herpetofauna, 14(77), 33-34.
Written by Miguel Vences and Frank Glaw (m.vences AT tu-bs.de), Assistant Professor and Curator of Vertebrates at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics in the Zoological Museum at the University of Amsterdam.
First submitted 2000-12-13
Edited by Henry Zhu; Updated by Ann T. Chang (2013-07-30)
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