Fire-Bellied Toad

The Fire-Bellied Toad is an aquatic frog species that originated in Europe and China and has become a very popular pet. There are several species that differ in location and characteristics but are known for their brightly-colored dorsums.

Fire-Bellied Toad (Bombina Orientalis)

Fire-Bellied toads are not listed as a concern but may face threats in their native ranges such as habitat destruction and pollution. 

Common NameFire-Bellied Toad
Other NameOriental Fire-bellied Toad 
Scientific NameBombina bombina / Bombina orientalis
LocationsEurope and Asia 
CharacteristicsVentrum is differently and more brightly colored than dorsum.
Black spots are patterned throughout the entire body. 
ColorGreen back, red or orange belly 
OriginCentral and Eastern Europe, China 
Conservation StatusLeast Concern 
FamilyBombinatoridae
GenusBombina
SpeciesB. bombina, B. maxima
B. microdeladigitora
B. orientalis, B. pachypus
B variegata
B variegata scabra
B. variegata variegata 
PoisonousYes 
Max Length2 inches 
Max Weight2 ounces 
Lifespan12-15 years in the wild
20 years in captivity 

Breeding and Hibernation Behaviors 

Fire-bellied toads in the wild hibernate between starting in September and emerging in April.

They burrow themselves in the mud on the bottom of the aquatic habitats that inhabit. They emerge in the spring ready to breed. 

Breeding takes place starting in May and lasts through the summer.

Males exhibit a particular display when attempting to attract a mate.

Fire-Bellied Toad (Bombina Orientalis) at the waters edge.

They will flatten their bodies on the surface of the water with their legs splayed out and call.

Their call sounds like a tinging sound. 

Females will lay eggs following amplexus with the male.

Eggs are laid attached to aquatic vegetation and usually in clusters.

A varying amount of eggs can be laid at one time, but usually range from 80 to around 300. 

They Prefer Wetland Habitats

Fire-bellied toads are an aquatic species, though they come on terrestrial land occasionally to find food, mates, and to bask and rest.

Since they largely prefer water habitats, they are most commonly found occupying wetlands.

They can be found in marshes, swamps, peats, bogs, river valleys, and temporary lakes and ponds. 

Frog Oriental fire-bellied toad (Bombina orientalis) sitting on a green leaf

They mate and spawn in water and their tadpoles hatch and grow in an entirely aquatic environment.

However, since they are an amphibian, they come out of the water when they want or need to find food or a different suitable habitat.

Some of their habitats may be temporary aquatic environments, meaning they come seasonally or will dry up. 

Using Their Colors as a Defense Mechanism 

As their name suggests, fire-bellied toads have brightly colored bellies.

Colors in nature usually come with advantages for the animal.

It could be used for camouflage, for mating, or to deter predators from trying to eat them. 

The fire-bellied toad uses their bright bellies as a defense mechanism against predators.

When they are threatened they will use what is called the ukenreflex.

Here, the toad will roll onto their back to display their bright belly, or they may curl onto a side and show off the bright colors on the underside of the legs.

Sometimes they will cover their eyes or arch their back as well. 

The purpose of this display is to showcase that predators may want to steer clear of messing with this toad.

Several other amphibian species showcase this posturing, and it is often paired with releasing the toxins in their parotid glands.

Fire-bellied Toads as Pets 

I used to work at an exotic pet store that sold fire-bellied toads as pets.

Whenever someone wanted to take them home, we made sure they took home multiple so they would have companions.

They are pretty common pets, and easy to care for once you know what to do. 

Since they are mainly aquatic, they need a large pool or an aquarium half-filled with water.

However, always remember to give them a dry spot of land to relax on!

They would need their water changed frequently if there is no filter to keep it clean and healthy for them. 

How to Find a Fire-bellied Toad In the Wild

  • The first step is to determine which species may be found in the area you are searching. Are you in Europe? Asia? What parts? 
  • Go out during the day, these toads are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day! 
  • Find an area with waterways or water-filled habitats, like a marsh, swamp, or bog. These frogs prefer standing water, so nothing too fast for them. Don’t forget to bring your wading boots! 
  • Look for multiple individuals in the same area. Since they are social, they are more likely to occur with one another! 

Fun Facts About Fire-bellied Toads 

  • They lack a tympanic membrane. This is a thin membrane behind a frog’s eye that keeps the ear sections separate. 
  • These frogs are highly sociable in the wild and tend to be kept together in multiples as pets. 
  • They cannot extend their tongues to catch prey, instead, they have to get right to their prey and use their mouths.  
  • Speaking of prey, fire-bellied toads are omnivores! Their diet mainly consists of small insects and worms.  

Sources

AmphibiaWeb. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://amphibiaweb.org

IUCN. 2022. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2022-2. https://www.iucnredlist.org.

Oriental fire-bellied toad: National Geographic. Animals. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/amphibians/facts/oriental-fire-bellied-toad?loggedin=true&rnd=1672678517108 

Oriental fire-bellied toad. Smithsonian’s National Zoo. (2018, July 11). Retrieved from https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/oriental-fire-bellied-toad