A generally rather small and stout Mantella frog, body length 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.
The colouration of M. aurantiaca is unique and not easily confused with other species.
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
Endangered status: 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).
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Originally submitted by: Miguel Vences and Frank Glaw (first posted 2000-12-13)
Edited by: Henry Zhu, Ann T. Chang (2021-07-25)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2021 Mantella aurantiaca: Golden Mantella <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/4559> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Sep 26, 2021.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2021. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 26 Sep 2021.
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