Fire-bellied Toads

fire-bellied toad

Firebellied toads or Bombina orientalis are members of a species of toads that belong to the Discoglossidae family. A main distinguishing characteristic of toads belonging to the Discoglossidae family is being equipped with a tongue that cannot be extended in the same manner as of other frogs and toads. In contrast to the various frogs and toads that can extend their tongues to catch prey, firebellied toads utilize their forearms to push down food they had caught by leaping forward and grabbing prey with their mouths.

These firebellied toads are native to both southeastern and southern Asian territories such as northeastern China and Korea. A large population of firebellied toads has also been spotted in southeastern Siberia. Adults usually spend most of the time partly submerged in water, but young firebellied toads often spend time hunting for food near bodies of water such as swamps, lakes, and ponds.

Firebellied toads have black and bright green-colored backs and black mixed with bright orange undersides. Such brilliant colors serve as amongst the natural defensive mechanisms of firebellied toads against predators. These toads arch their backs and show off the bright colors on their bellies whenever they acknowledge the presence of predators in their immediate surroundings or whenever they feel threatened, hence the name firebellied toads.

Moreover, their bright colored bellies provide them with a means to communicate to predators that they have poisonous glands. These glands secrete toxins through their hide. Once agitated, these firebellied toads secrete poisons in quantities that can cover their entire bodies. The poisons that come from the glands of these toads can cause mild to moderate irritations to a human's eyes and face in case of direct and prolonged contact. However, these firebellied toads are also considered as the least poisonous toads amongst those that secrete toxins.

In addition, these firebellied toads go through a wide variety of colors as they age, which often result in dark olive green to bright green adults. The hide of a firebellied toad develops a dark green hue whenever the time comes for them to shed. After the shedding process, these firebellied toads usually revert to its bright green color. Healthy firebellied toads go through this normal process of shedding.

Adult firebellied toads measure about 2 inches in length, but there are some toads that grow up to 4 inches long. These toads can live up to 5 years, and there are some occurrences where adult toads survive for around 7 years in captivity. This may be due to the absence of predators in controlled environments. On the other hand, firebellied toads are communal in nature since they live together as close-knit groups in rainforests and the like.

The main differences between female and male firebellied toads can be quite difficult to spot. Male firebellied toads develop dark and horny nuptial pads on their forearms and fingers during mating or breeding season. Moreover, male firebellied toads make noises in the form of sounds that resemble barks, while female firebellied toads remain silent during their lifetime. Aside from these aspects, certain physical characteristics that can allow someone to determine male and female firebellied toads include body size, weight, and the texture of their backs. Female firebellied toads usually grow larger than males, while male toads have rougher backs than female firebellied toads.

When breeding season draws near, male firebellied toads can be heard to produce unusual barking noises that are in fact mating calls. During the entire mating process, female firebellied toads release eggs. The male firebellied toad will appear to be hugging the female toad as they mate, and this breeding position is called lumbar amplexus. Male firebellied toads stimulate female toads during the entire mating process, which causes the female firebellied toad to release eggs. Male firebellied toads, in turn, fertilize the eggs while the female lays them.

Feeding and Care

In captivity, firebellied toads should be fed with live insects because they depend on movement to hunt for prey. Live insects such as crickets can provide your firebellied toads with enough protein on a daily basis. However, you should also feed them with mineral and vitamin supplements on a weekly basis since this will help them ward off diseases.

Firebellied toads should be kept in vivariums since they often spend time in water. The 18-gallon types of these vivariums can accommodate a group of 5 firebellied toads. Around 4 inches of water will be enough to cover the bottom of the vivariums, but leave at least a fourth of the vivarium's entire surface dry to act as a feeding space for your firebellied toads. You should also place soil, moss, bark, and dampened sphagnum while completely avoiding artificial turf and gravel since it will be too harsh for the skin of your pets.

The water you will use for the vivarium should be the de-chlorinated type. Maintain temperature levels of the vivarium in the 65-82 degrees F range. Finally, regularly clean your vivarium in order to prevent diseases and infections due to feces and leftover food. You should not handle your firebellied toads with bare hands because the residue oil on your skin can harm your pets, so use latex gloves whenever the situation calls for handling your firebellied toads during cleanups.