Mantella baroni      Mantella madagascariensis

Two Painted Mantella Frogs:
Correctly Identifying Mantella baroni and Mantella madagascariensis
By Devin Edmonds

Among hobbyists there is a lot of confusion regarding Mantella baroni, Mantella madagascariensis and how to differentiate between the two. This is understandable - they look nearly identical. To make proper identification even more difficult, few reptile and amphibian suppliers distinguish between the two species, usually housing them together and labeling all with the common name painted mantella. Fortunately, by carefully examining individual frogs there are certain features that allow the two to be told apart.

Their ventral side offers the most reliable way to distinguish between the two. M. baroni has either a dot or solid black on the throat and small markings on the forelimbs, while M. madagascariensis has a horseshoe-shaped marking on the throat and may or may not have markings on the forelimbs. The hind limbs of M. baroni are solid red part way up to the thigh, while M. madagascariensis has red on the hind limbs through the thighs. Sometimes this red is slightly marbled with black or orange. Below is a sketch of the ventral side of M. baroni and M. madagascariensis, as well as a photo of the two for comparison.

Mantella baroni Mantella madagascariensis

Individual frogs sometimes exhibit ventral patterns that lie somewhere in between the two species. For this reason it is helpful to compare other features. The table below represents differences between M. baroni and M. madagascariensis. No one feature should be used as the only means of identification, as few individual frogs of either species exhibit all of the traits below. Instead, all information should be compared to that of an individual frog and whichever side matches the frog best is likely the species

Dorsal Side

Mantella baroni
Mantella madagascariensis
Snout to vent length
22 - 30 mm
20 - 27 mm
Dorsum color
Black or black with yellow markings
Rostral stripe
Yellow/green - rarely touching flank blotch
Yellow/green - often touching flank blotch
Hind limbs
Orange with crossbands and markings
Orange, with or without black marbling or crossbands
Not present
Distinct orange flashmarks
Solid black
Light pigment in upper half

Ventral Side

Mantella baroni
Mantella madagascriensis
Black with few large, rounded, light markings
Black with large, rounded, light markings
Completely black or with single, round, marking
Black with horseshoe-shaped marking
Hind limbs
Partially orange without black markings
Orange, occasionally with yellow black markings

Information in above table summarized from
Vences, M., F. Glaw & W. Böhme. 1999. A review of the genus Mantella (Anura, Ranidae, Mantellinae): taxonomy, distribution and conservation of Malagasy poison frogs. Alytes 17 (1-2): 3-72.



© 2006 Devin Edmonds