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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

I've got a small group Mantella baroni, which currently consists of three captive bred individuals (out of water May 2018) and two wildcaught ones. I know for certain that one of the CB ones is a male, as well as one of the WC ones. I suspect that another CB is male and that the remaining two individuals are females. I had another WC male, but this one died earlier (from stress induced from treatment for subdermal mites).

I noticed in both the WC and CB ones that there are some inconsistencies regarding baroni characteristics. I've listed below the characteristics for baroni and madagascariensis, and have highlighted the key differences between them.

Mantella baroni:
-SVL 22-30 mm
-Head, dorsum, and flanks are solid black
-A yellowish rostral stripe is present, generally ending past the eye but not connecting to the flank blotches
-Front limbs are yellow to greenish, this colour extending as large flank blotches
-Hindlimbs are orange with irregular black stripes
-There are no flashmarks on the lower hindlimbs
-Ventral side is black and marked with yellow to greenish, rarely blue blotches
-Ventrally the orange color of the legs does not extend onto the femur
-Throat has one circular marking, but may be all black
-The iris is black

Mantella madagascariensis:
-SVL 20-27 mm
-Upper head surface, dorsum and flanks usually blackish
-Yellowish rostral stripe present, often in contact with flank blotch
-Front limbs are yellow to green, this colour extending as large flank blotches
-Hindlimbs orange, with or without blackish crossbands and marblings
-Distinct orange flashmarks present on lower hindlimbs (this often turns yellow in CB individuals)
-Ventral side is black with light markings (mostly whitish-blue, sometimes yellow to green). These being generally rather large, rounded, and situated posteriorly on the venter.
-Ventrally the orange color of the legs extends well into femur, sometimes with black and yellow markings
-Throat has distinct horseshoe marking, more extended in males
-Iris mostly containing light pigment in its upper part

I got the captive bred ones as youngsters from a reputable source in Europe, and I trust the seller when he says that the parents are 100% baroni. They were identified as such by several Mantella experts including himself. He also mentioned that their back will turn black in time, so I'm not too worried about that for now.

So now for the photographs:

CB individual 1 (confirmed male)







Characteristics which conflict with baroni:
-There is some orange spotting on the ventral side of the femur
-There is an interrupted horseshoe shape on the throat

Characteristics congruent with baroni and speaking against madagascariensis:
-The rostral stripe does not connect to the flank blotches
-There are no flashmarks on the legs
-The iris is all black

CB individual 2 (likely male)





Characteristics which conflict with baroni:
-There is orange spotting on the ventral side of the femur
-There is more than one spot on the throat

Characteristics congruent with baroni and speaking against madagascariensis:
-The rostral stripe does not connect to the flank blotches
-There are no flashmarks on the legs
-The iris is all black

CB individual 3 (potentially female)








Characteristics which conflict with baroni:
-There is a decent amount of orange spotting on the ventral side of the femur
-There is an interrupted horseshoe shape on the throat

Characteristics congruent with baroni and speaking against madagascariensis:
-The rostral stripe does not connect to the flank blotches
-There are no flashmarks on the legs
-The iris is all black

Deceased WC individual (confirmed male and in my opinion, sadly the most beautiful one I had)





Characteristics which conflict with baroni:
-The iris has a gold upper part

Characteristics congruent with baroni and speaking against madagascariensis:
-The rostral stripe does not connect to the flank blotches
-No orange on the ventral side of the femur
-There are no flashmarks on the legs
-There is a single spot on the throat

WC individual 2 (confirmed male)








Characteristics which conflict with baroni:
-The iris has a gold upper part

Characteristics congruent with baroni and speaking against madagascariensis:
-The rostral stripe does not connect to the flank blotches
-No orange on the ventral side of the femur
-There are no flashmarks on the legs
-There is a single spot on the throat

WC individual 3 (likely female)







Characteristics which conflict with baroni:
None

Characteristics congruent with baroni and speaking against madagascariensis:
-The rostral stripe does not connect to the flank blotches
-No orange on the ventral side of the femur
-There are no flashmarks on the legs
-There is a single spot on the throat
-The iris is solid black

So what are your opinions on this? Personally I suspect that there has been some introgression into some wildcaught baroni, and my main suspect would be Mantella nigricans as this species often has interrupted horseshoe markings on the throat and a gold upper part of the iris. Nigricans also does not have flashmarks and a recent study has shown that genetically the two species probably have intermixed in recent history (evolutionary speaking).
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Also, does anyone here happen to have some of the CB baroni from Josh's frogs? I'd be most interested in how they grow up color and pattern wise.
 
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I would probably say the mint green frog with some speckling on its back that appears to be missing most of its flashmarks from top view on the femur could be a madagascariensis, even though the easiest way to differentiate the two visually is the orange flashmark on the femur. I used to have a frog that looked nearly identical except he had orange flash marks and red all the way on the underside of the legs up to the waist. If you got them from a reputable source it could just be variation. Unfortunately there is no locale data for any mantellas so there could be different morphs that people have mixed unintentionally.

However, the picture from Joshsfrogs of their CB baroni had the light mint green color as froglets, so it could just be an age thing.

I have not bred baroni, but from the images online of CB baroni vs CB mads, mads are mostly brown when they morph out and teeny tiny with almost no green coloration.

Note though there are arguments that madagascariensis may be a complex of species, but baroni is genetically identical to nigricans.
 

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At least a few of your frogs appear to be madagascariensis

Also, does anyone here happen to have some of the CB baroni from Josh's frogs? I'd be most interested in how they grow up color and pattern wise.
From what I understand, Josh's has only been able to breed a SINGLE individual to the froglet stage. Other than that, there is pretty much NO ONE being successful in breeding this species.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
I would probably say the mint green frog with some speckling on its back that appears to be missing most of its flashmarks from top view on the femur could be a madagascariensis, even though the easiest way to differentiate the two visually is the orange flashmark on the femur. I used to have a frog that looked nearly identical except he had orange flash marks and red all the way on the underside of the legs up to the waist. If you got them from a reputable source it could just be variation. Unfortunately there is no locale data for any mantellas so there could be different morphs that people have mixed unintentionally.

However, the picture from Joshsfrogs of their CB baroni had the light mint green color as froglets, so it could just be an age thing.

I have not bred baroni, but from the images online of CB baroni vs CB mads, mads are mostly brown when they morph out and teeny tiny with almost no green coloration.

Note though there are arguments that madagascariensis may be a complex of species, but baroni is genetically identical to nigricans.
Thanks for the info, as I mentioned in my original post, I'd consider the seller to be a highly reputable source. I don't have photographs of the froglets when they just morphed out unfortunately as I only got them when they were already 9 months of age.

Earliest photograph I have (around 9 months OOW):



And a little under a month later:


I've done a bit of digging on the forum and there seem to be other threads documenting Mantella baroni with aberrant characteristics (horseshoe shaped spots on throats and gold upper part of iris). In particular these two are interesting with regard to the characteristics shown:
https://www.dendroboard.com/forum/identification-forum/38870-what-specie.html
https://www.dendroboard.com/forum/members-frogs-vivariums/308194-20-gal-mantella-tank.html

I'll keep an eye on mine and post some more pictures now and then.

At least a few of your frogs appear to be madagascariensis



From what I understand, Josh's has only been able to breed a SINGLE individual to the froglet stage. Other than that, there is pretty much NO ONE being successful in breeding this species.
I wasn't aware that this was only a single froglet. However I do know a few people in europe who at least have had clutches (both fertile and infertile) and tadpoles of baroni.
 

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i would just try and contact Josh for this? Also Serge Pasquasi has worked with mantella in Madagascar, I am sure he knows people that breed them. In Hamm, there is always a mantella breeder selling his offspring frogs. ( I think he is the breeder of your frogs? )

But I also sure, most mantella are just wild caught.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
i would just try and contact Josh for this? Also Serge Pasquasi has worked with mantella in Madagascar, I am sure he knows people that breed them. In Hamm, there is always a mantella breeder selling his offspring frogs. ( I think he is the breeder of your frogs? )

But I also sure, most mantella are just wild caught.
Already did in June, got this reponse from them:


"Cara (Josh's Frogs HelpDesk)

Jun 18, 10:59 AM EDT

Thanks for reaching out to us! At this time, Josh's Frogs does not offer pictures of individual frogs for sale. Here's why:

Additional Stress to the animals
We produce and ship out a LOT of frogs. The additional handling of each froglet for pictures would cause extra, unnecessary stress for every animal that leaves our doors. Stress can cause a reduction in appetite and slow down in growth - we want our froglets to be the biggest possible for their age!

Time
It takes a LOT of time to take care of, breed, and clean up after thousands of frogs, and it would take even more time to get individual pictures of each animal. We feel that our time is best spent ensuring every animal purchased from Josh's Frogs is happy, healthy, and the best it can be.

Biosecurity
We maintain strict biosecurity and quarantine protocols at Josh's Frogs. These do not allow for froglets to leave the raising rooms for pictures, then return to them. We must adhere to these principles for the safety of our animals.

Reserving Frogs
We do not hold specific frogs for customers. Instead, we ship out the largest frogs we have on hand when an order ships. That way, we can ensure our customers are receiving the largest, well started froglets possible when they receive their order.

Froglet Variability
Many species of frogs (especially some dart frogs) are quite variable. We've put together many pictures of each morph on their specific product page to provide you with a better idea of what your froglets could look like.


Thank you for choosing Josh's Frogs! Have a great day!
-Cara"

So sadly no extra pics of their froglet(s)

The Mantella breeder in Hamm is someone I know (and he is not the source of my frogs). He has a breeding group of baroni but so far he only had infertile clutches. He does breed M. madagascariensis (and other Mantella species). I'll shoot a message to Serge to see if he has more info.
 

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Understory enterprises also claim to sell only captivebred mantella, mayebe they are worth a try?

Ive been in touch with them in past and they helped me out allot back then.
 

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Baroni / cowani / nigricans are difficult frogs to breed, but some people like Joshsfrogs have gotten them to breed. I talked to Joshsfrogs a while back and they said they got baroni to breed and what they did was keep them in very, very large groups. They were for sale for a while and the froglets pictured had uniform light mint green with brownish gray backs like in the picture. The froglet pictures are still up under " baroni" on their website. I'm pretty sure it's diet related why most of us have poor success, which is a shame because baroni are so commonly imported yet few people have gotten them figured out. I can say at least visually those froglets have to be baroni or baroni / mad crosses.
 

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Here's a quick assessment of the adults (it's kinda hard on my computer cuz the images aren't resizing properly, and the images are huuuuuge)

WC individual 3 (likely female)
baroni

Deceased WC individual
madagasc
orange flashmarks

WC individual 2 (confirmed male)
madagasc
light upper iris


I can say at least visually those froglets have to be baroni or baroni / mad crosses.
I would agree here. Their chins have almost the classic madagascariensis "U", I can't see them NOT having any madagasc in them.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Baroni / cowani / nigricans are difficult frogs to breed, but some people like Joshsfrogs have gotten them to breed. I talked to Joshsfrogs a while back and they said they got baroni to breed and what they did was keep them in very, very large groups. They were for sale for a while and the froglets pictured had uniform light mint green with brownish gray backs like in the picture. The froglet pictures are still up under " baroni" on their website. I'm pretty sure it's diet related why most of us have poor success, which is a shame because baroni are so commonly imported yet few people have gotten them figured out. I can say at least visually those froglets have to be baroni or baroni / mad crosses.
Yeah I noticed those photographs on their website. It's a shame there are no ventral photographs of that froglet.

Here's a quick assessment of the adults (it's kinda hard on my computer cuz the images aren't resizing properly, and the images are huuuuuge)

WC individual 3 (likely female)
baroni

Deceased WC individual
madagasc
orange flashmarks

WC individual 2 (confirmed male)
madagasc
light upper iris




I would agree here. Their chins have almost the classic madagascariensis "U", I can't see them NOT having any madagasc in them.
Sorry about the massive size of the photographs. I don't see the flashmarks you're referring to though, I'll see if I can make a clear photograph of the legs of the WC male (and post it a bit smaller).

Also, another way to figure it out is with the calls. Madagac is usually *chirp*chirp* or *chirpy*chirp*. Baroni is *tick*..*tick*..*tick*.

Madagascariensis calling:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAEIRauZ7KA

Baroni calling:
https://amphibiaweb.org/sounds/Mantella_baroni.mp3

*also just noticed the eyes in Deceased WC individual. This would also support madagasc
This is the CB male calling at the height of the calling bout (he usually starts slower and speeds up when he sees another frog). To me this sounds more like baroni, just a bit faster than the URL you posted:


I don't have videos of the other males calling (specifically because the WC one only calls sporadically) but they also have singular "ticks" when they call.
 
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Try using imgbb to upload your pictures Johan. We have the same "problem" at gifkikkerforum.be :)
 

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Try using imgbb to upload your pictures Johan. We have the same "problem" at gifkikkerforum.be :)
These were all uploaded with imgbb ;)
 
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The "flashmarks" are just splotches of slightly lighter orange. They are... pretty subjective lol. You can kinda see them here:



But besides that, the eyes are a fair giveaway:



if you compare to the female baroni, you can see how her eyes don't have the yellow accent, and how her legs are a much more even orange
 

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The "flashmarks" are just splotches of slightly lighter orange. They are... pretty subjective lol. You can kinda see them here:



But besides that, the eyes are a fair giveaway:


if you compare to the female baroni, you can see how her eyes don't have the yellow accent, and how her legs are a much more even orange
I see what you mean, but I was always under the impression that Mantella flashmarks were located only within the joint between the femur and thigh, such as in this photograph of M. pulchra (picked from the internet):
Mantella pulchra.

I can't compare the deceased animal with the other two wildcaught individuals because I have a limited amount of photographs, but I'll see if I can make a picture of the remaining WC ones to compare their legs. Would be interesting to see if there is similar "splotching" going on in the other WC male with gold in the iris.

This identification guide is often given as a good reference: Correctly Identifying Mantella baroni and Mantella madagascariensis

The text on this guide states:
"Individual frogs sometimes exhibit ventral patterns that lie somewhere in between the two species." as well as "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". This doesn't really help clearing the matter unfortunately :rolleyes:

Given the presence of hybrids of several mantella species (e.g. baroni x cowani and madagascariensis x aurantiaca), maybe baroni and madagascariensis have some of each other's genes (and maybe others as well) mixed in anyway in certain populations? Only way to know for certain would be to do a genetic analysis I suppose. Too bad my PhD focuses on soil microbial communities with DNA techniques, I would've loved to work on frog phylogeny or population genetics.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Took a few shots of the two wildcaught individuals yesterday. As you can see, the legs of the female (bottom frog in both photographs) are not uniformly orange and also show kind of spots of lighter color.


 
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The text on this guide states:
"Individual frogs sometimes exhibit ventral patterns that lie somewhere in between the two species." as well as "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". This doesn't really help clearing the matter unfortunately :rolleyes:

Given the presence of hybrids of several mantella species (e.g. baroni x cowani and madagascariensis x aurantiaca), maybe baroni and madagascariensis have some of each other's genes (and maybe others as well) mixed in anyway in certain populations? Only way to know for certain would be to do a genetic analysis I suppose. Too bad my PhD focuses on soil microbial communities with DNA techniques, I would've loved to work on frog phylogeny or population genetics.
Yeah, the "flashmarks" is pretty subjective in my opinion. I haven't seen enough/good evidence on what it actually means lol. Even the mantella guide just shows a drawing -- no example individuals.

That said, the U-chin is a classical madagascariensis trait that isn't found in baroni. I'd say the fact that the offspring have it, is pretty indicative that they have at least some madagascariensis lineage.

There definitely are documented naturally occurring hybrid individuals.

There isn't a published genome for madagascariensis and baroni, right? If you have access to a PCR machine, this would actually be a pretty easy/cheap thing to validate in the lab lol.
 
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