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    Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad (Bombina orientalis)

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    Overview

    Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad (Bombina orientalis) is one of the most popular frogs in the world. Its common name stems from its stout proportions, granular skin and vivid red belly blotched in black. These attractive and hardy frogs are ideal for beginners, being tolerant of a range of conditions and thriving on live, commercially bred crickets.

    Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad, also called Oriental Bell Toad, is about 2 inches in length. It is commonly imported from the Southern part of the Russian Far East, northeastern China, and Korea. Other species of fire-bellied toads are found in Europe, North Africa, Russia, China, and northern Vietnam. Its conservation status is “Least Concern (LC)“.

    Fire-bellied toads are not true toads. These frogs were recently separated from the disc-tongued frogs and placed in their own family Bombinatoridae, which includes 6 species of water toads.

    Captive-bred and captive-raised Oriental Fire-Bellied toads can live up to 16 years. It is impossible to determine the sex of a fire-bellied toad from its appearance outside of the breeding season. Breeding males develop black nuptial (mating) pads on the insides of the thumb, second finger, and forearms, as well as on the feet.

    Purchasing several fire-bellied toads (at least half a dozen) results in a much more interesting vivarium than purchasing a single specimen.

    Housing

    The minimum enclosure size for up to 4 toads is a 10-gallon vivarium with a screen top. A 20-gallon tank or larger holds 6 or more animals and makes a more interesting display. Gravel bed shoreline vivarium might be the easiest setups to design and maintain. This type of vivarium includes a substrate of gravel that simulates the shoreline of a stream or pond, combining equal areas of shallow water and land.

    Add small sections of wood and smooth pebbles along the water edges to give the vivarium character and to hold gravel in place. One or two bulbs in a fluorescent fixture running the length of the tank provide the necessary light. Select plants that grow well in water, such as Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema sp.), pothos, arrowhead plants (Sagittaria spp.) and Wandering Jew (Zebrina pendula). These can be planted in the gravel land sections.

    The water in a shoreline vivarium should be changed weekly. At least once a month flush the gravel thoroughly. Chlorine and chloramine, ammonia and other “purifiers” must be removed from the water. Room temperature of 68 – 80°F is fine for these frogs.

    Feeding

    Adult fire-bellied toads eat a diet of 3 – 4 week old commercially raised crickets, as well as a variety of other prey, including earthworms and waxworms. They may even learn to take nonliving food, such as strips of raw beef or fish, from tweezers. The diet needs to be supplemented twice a week by lightly dusting food with a reptile vitamin-mineral powder that contains calcium to prevent metabolic diseases.

    Skin Toxins

    Fire-bellied toads produce skin toxins that could be harmful to your skin. Always wash your hands after handling these frogs. Frightened fire-bellied toads often curve their body and legs upwards to display the brilliant colors that denote toxicity. Most predators that do not understand the message will quickly drop the bite-sized toads once the whitish, latex-like skin secretions are exuded.

    Video Credits: Jessica’s Animal Friends
    Image Credits: Vassil, WikiMedia

    References:

    1. Philippe de Vosjoli – Popular Amphibians
    2. Richard D. Bartlett, Patricia Pope Bartlett – Frogs, Toads, and Treefrogs: Everything About Selection, Care, Nutrition, Breeding and Behavior
    3. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS)
    4. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)

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