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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-SchlÃ¶sser 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).