Scientific Name: Bombina orientalis
The fire bellied toad is an amphibian native to Korea, China and Eastern Russia. They are an attractive species, typically lime green with mottled black markings, though they have the ability to change colouration. The name Fire Belly refers to the orange-red colouration on their underside. They make excellent pets and serve as a great introductory species due to their hardiness and basic husbandry requirements. They are not true toads, and for the purpose of their husbandry it helps to treat them as frogs. This species does well in groups, and are relatively inexpensive so it may prove more enjoyable to keep a pair or a trio.
Sexing and Characteristics:
Sexing FBTs is not easy. There are differences between the sexes but they are quite subtle. Males will develop nuptial pads on their first and second digit during the mating season. Males are also the only sex that will vocalize, so if you hear your frog croaking, it is a male. Females tend to be slightly larger than males of the same age and have smoother skin on their backs, but this in not a very reliable indication of sex.
As adults they will be approximately 2.5 inches long. Froglets are only about 1.5 cm long. While froglets are rarely offered for sale, if you have a choice then opt for an adult animal as they are much hardier and easier to care for.
Substrate and Water Needs:
Fire bellied toads are semi-aquatic. As such they should be provided with both a land area and a large body of water. The easiest way to maintain these animals is to provide a deep, moist substrate such as coco husk. A water dish can then be embedded in the substrate. The water should be at least an inch deep to allow the animals to completely submerge themselves. Ensure you provide them with an easy exit from the water bowl by providing a ramp.
N.B. Tap water contains chlorine. This will harm/kill your frogs. Always treat tap-water with anti-chlorine products or use untreated spring water.
If utilising this setup then water should be changed every 2 days. It is also important to keep the substrate moist. This can be achieved by lightly spraying the substrate with a water bottle every day or two. Humidity is essential for this species, so the substrate used should maintain high humidity. Sphagnum moss, coco husk and fertilizer-free potting soil all make good substrates.
Lighting and UVB:
These frogs have no specific lighting requirements; in fact, lights may dry out the enclosure or damage the animal’s sensitive skin. Allow your frogs to have a light cycle of 12 hours on, 12 hours off. Extended photo-periods may stress your frogs.
Temperatures & Humidity:
This species tolerates a wide range of temperatures. An ambient temperature of 20-24 degrees Celcius is ideal. As these animals generally thrive at room temperature, additional heating is normally not necessary. If you live in a colder region, or keep your frogs in a room that is cooler than normal, then placing a heat-mat, fitted with a thermostat, under the terrestrial portion of the enclosure should help keep temperatures at an acceptable level. Humidity should be 65-80% at all times.
There are many ways to maintain your FBTs. The most common method is to use an aquarium or vivarium. A 35litre aquarium is the minimum amount of space a single frog should be provided with, though it will house up to 3 frogs comfortably. If you wish to keep larger groups then provide an additional 20 litres per frog.
Rubbermaid tubs or large faunariums are also perfectly good housing for FBTs.
Provide your animals with hiding places in both the terrestrial and aquatic environment. Fire bellied toads rarely hide, but providing them with the security to do so will prevent the animals from becoming stressed.
Insectivorius – Feed your frogs on a variety of invertebrate prey items. Froglets will require smaller prey items such as fruit-flies or springtails. It can be difficult to attain a regular supply of these feeders, so it may be beneficial to breed your own.
Adult frogs will take any prey item that they can fit in their mouths. They have voracious appetites and can become frenzied at feeding time. For this reason it is important to monitor your frogs during feeding to ensure each animal is getting adequate quantities of food. Feed frogs about 6 appropriately sized invertebrates every 2 to 3 days. Feeder insects may burrow or drown in the enclosure, so it may be beneficial to feed your frogs in a Tupperware container or similar to ensure that all prey items are accounted for.
Avoid feeding insects with a high chitin content too regularly as it may lead to impactation of the gut. Appropriately sized crickets are ideal feeders.
Supplements, Nutrition and Usage:
Feeder insects should be gut-loaded in advance of every feeding. Dusting with a multipurpose compound should be done every second feeding. They should also be dusted with calcium powder every 3-4 feedings
Fire Bellied Toads are very easy to care for. Perform spot cleaning every 2-3 days and perform a thorough clean of the entire tank every 2 months or so. When using cleaning products and disinfectants, make sure that all residues have been washed off before returning your frogs to their tank.
Water dishes should be changed every 2 days.
Make sure there are no sharp edges in the tank on which your frogs can injure themselves. Bogwood and rocks in particular should be checked before adding them to the tank.
Avoid handling your toads. It can damage their skin, and the toxins they secrete can irritate the eyes and mucous membranes.
If you must handle your toads, for maintenance/health checks, then wash your hands before and after, and where possible use plastic deli-style gloves.
Care sheet Courtesy of The Herpetological Society of Ireland 2009