Golden Mantella

Mantella aurantiaca

The Golden Manella
Mocquard, 1900

Mantella aurantiaca is a beautiful little highland species that ranges in color from golden-orange to red, and to me has an almost wax-like quality.  The red form, M. aurantiaca rubra had been proposed as a sub-specie, but this was later rejected due to lack of evidence.[1]  In fact, a number of authors have suggested that the various “shades” might represents sub-species; however, to date they have all been dismissed due to their sympatric existences, and so as of this date M. aurantiaca has recognized no sub-species.[2]   Their typical size range is between 0.67-0.94” (17-24 mm), although the females, which tend to be larger and fuller-bodied, can exceed this.

M. aurantiaca is critically endangered.[3][4][5][6]  It has an extremely limited range, which is under continued threat by the usual suspects.  As of 2014 it is ranked at #141 of 4,339 endangered amphibians.[7]

Of course, the pet trade can either add to the problem or be part of the solution.  I have seen Golden Mantellas imported over the years, and they are known to breed in captivity with some thoughtful effort but relative ease.   Carefully managed captive-breeding programs could supply the demands of hobbyists and institutions, greatly reducing or eliminating the demand for wild-caught animals.  Yet this is not happening, which suggest to me that these frogs have not wound up in the care of enough capable, responsible, conscientious keepers.  Hopefully this will change.

Distribution/Habitat
M. aurantiaca only occurs in three sites; all small, isolated forest fragments west of the Mangoro River[8].  From Randrianavelona et al.: “The forests south of Moramanga in the Communes of Ambohibary and Beparasy form a notable cluster with a number of localities confirmed (Bora et al. 1998; Randrianavelona et al, 2010). The second main cluster is located north-east of Moramanga town around the Torotorofotsy wetland (Bora et al. 2008; Randrianavelona et al. 2010). The most curious outliers occur to the north-west of Moramanga in the Ambakoana area, two sites where M. aurantiaca was discovered in 2007 (Bora et al. 2008).”[9]   Their habitat consists of mid to high altitude tropical forests at elevations of approximately 3000-3900 ft (900-1160 m) ASL.  They are associated with swampy or marsh-like conditions and utilize the fluctuating water levels for breeding.  Eggs are deposited at the edge of pool-forming depressions, and when they hatch the tadpoles are released into it as the water level rises.


[1] Species Conservation for Mantella aurantiaca (The Golden Mantella Frog) 2011-2015, Randrianavelona R., Randrianantoandro J. C., Rabibisoa N., Randrianasolo H., Rabesihanaka S., Randriamahaleo S. and Jenkins R. K. B. 2010. Stratégie de Conservation de l’Espèce Mantella aurantiaca (grenouille dorée) 2011-2015.

[2] AARK Ex-Situ Management Guidelines:  Mantella aurantiaca:  http://www.amphibianark.org/pdf/Husbandry/Husbandry%20Guidelines%20-%20M.%20aurantiaca.pdf

[3] IUCN Red List of Endangered Species: http://www.iucnredlist.org/

[4] Mantella: Poison Frogs of Madagascar; http://mantella.amphibiancare.com/index.html

[5] Species Conservation for Mantella aurantiaca (The Golden Mantella Frog) 2011-2015, Randrianavelona R., Randrianantoandro J. C., Rabibisoa N., Randrianasolo H., Rabesihanaka S., Randriamahaleo S. and Jenkins R. K. B. 2010. Stratégie de Conservation de l’Espèce Mantella aurantiaca (grenouille dorée) 2011-2015.

[6] EDGE: Evolutionarily Distinct & Globally Endangered: http://www.edgeofexistence.org/

[7] EDGE: Evolutionarily Distinct & Globally Endangered: http://www.edgeofexistence.org/

[8] Species Conservation for Mantella aurantiaca (The Golden Mantella Frog) 2011-2015, Randrianavelona R., Randrianantoandro J. C., Rabibisoa N., Randrianasolo H., Rabesihanaka S., Randriamahaleo S. and Jenkins R. K. B. 2010. Stratégie de Conservation de l’Espèce Mantella aurantiaca (grenouille dorée) 2011-2015.

[9] Species Conservation for Mantella aurantiaca (The Golden Mantella Frog) 2011-2015, Randrianavelona R., Randrianantoandro J. C., Rabibisoa N., Randrianasolo H., Rabesihanaka S., Randriamahaleo S. and Jenkins R. K. B. 2010. Stratégie de Conservation de l’Espèce Mantella aurantiaca (grenouille dorée) 2011-2015.