20-26 mm SVL. Head and dorsum dirty yellow to lemon yellow with a sharp dorsolateral colour border to the black flanks. Limbs grey to bright metallic blue. A thin bluish white frenal stripe along the upper lip usually from insertion of forelimbs to a point below anterior edge of the eye. Iris with light pigment in its upper part. Ventral colouration blackish with irregularly shaped blue markings which can fuse to form a blue-black marbling. Throat largely blue.
Similar species: Usually distinguished from the other species of the Mantella betsileo group by the typical colouration and the incomplete frenal stripe.
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Madagascar
Isalo. It occurs from 700 m to 1,000 m asl in seasonal streams and in wet canyons (where it is sometimes, but not always, associated with narrow gallery forest) (Andreone et al. 2008).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Habits: Occurs in the rather dry sandstone massif of Isalo. The species was found at several sites in the Ilakaka/Isalo region. There, it appears to be a savannah- species, living around small and temporary streams. The preferred habitat consisted either in quite open canyons, and also in rocky areas next to water bodies. Tadpoles and newly metamorphosed specimens were found also in temporary pools created within rocky depressions in close canyons. In another case we found both tadpoles and adults within a small cave (4 meters long) filled by water. In open areas the adults were found under rocks, or active during the first hours of the days (0500-0800). Tadpoles were small and blackish. A more detailed description will be provided elsewhere.
Calls: Similar to other Mantella species.
Trends and Threats
It occurs in Parque Nacional de Isalo. Trade in this species needs to be very carefully regulated, and the populations require close monitoring. The main threat is habitat loss due to grazing and fire, and in some localized regions due to mining for sapphires. It is actively sought after for the pet trade, and during the rainy season up to several thousand specimens can be collected (Andreone et al. 2008).
Relation to Humans
Captured for the pet trade.
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Drainage of habitat
Dams changing river flow and/or covering habitat
Loss of genetic diversity from small population phenomena
Intentional mortality (over-harvesting, pet trade or collecting)
Taken with permission from Glaw and Vences (2007).
Andreone, F. and Luiselli, L.M. (2003). ''Conservation priorities and potential threats influencing the hyper-diverse amphibians of Madagascar.'' Italian Journal of Zoology, 70, 53-63.
Andreone, F., Raxworthy, C., and Glaw, F. (2008). Mantella expectata. In: IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 21 April 2009.
Glaw, F., and Vences, M. (2007). Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Third Edition. Vences and Glaw Verlag, Köln.
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 Kellie Whittaker (2009-09-27)
Feedback or comments about this page.
Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on
amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2015. Berkeley, California:
(Accessed: Mar 3, 2015).
AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.