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Fire-Bellied Toad Care Sheet

 

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.

Overview 

Bombina orientalis

Popular as first pets for many hobbyists, these small toads are members of the amphibian family and named for their colorful red, orange or yellow undersides. They are insectivores (eat insects) and love to hunt for live prey. Native to China, Korea and parts of Russia, they are a pet to enjoy watching rather than handling, as these toads may excrete toxins from glands in their skin to make them unappetizing to predators. The toxins are not dangerous to people unless they are ingested. These toads should not be handled, however, as the oil on human skin can irritate the toads’ sensitive skin. 

 

Typical fire-bellied toad appearance & behavior 

  • One of the few communal toads, they live together in nature and spend most of their time in the water
  • They make good pets because they are hardy and diurnal (active during the day)
  • Another defensive behavior, besides secreting skin toxins, that these toads display is lifting their arms and legs, arching their backs and sometimes completely flipping over to show off their brightly colored bellies to scare off predators when they feel threatened
  • Male fire-bellied toads make an unusual bark-like sound when ready to mate
  • They shed their skin regularly and eat the shed
  • They can be aggressive toward each other (and try to eat each other) but typically startle when approached

Characteristics

Care Difficulty Beginner
Average Life Span Up to 7-15 years with proper care
Average Adult Size 2-3 inches long g
Diet Insectivore
Minimum Habitat Size 10-15 gallon tank for two to three toads

Habitat 

Habitat size

Toads should be housed in an appropriately sized and shaped semiaquatic habitat to accommodate normal behavior and exercise with a tight-fitting lid to help prevent escape. Toads can be housed alone or with one to two other toads of the same species. Ideally, provide the largest habitat possible. The habitat should have a land area that slopes into a water area so toads can enjoy both.

 

Building your habitat

To create a semiaquatic terrarium, fill a shallow bowl with filtered, dechlorinated water and submerge it into substrate on one side of the habitat so one side has shallow water and the other side is dry. Alternatively, fill tank with 1 to 2 inches of dechlorinated water, and build up one side with large, flat rocks, substrate and artificial or live plants (such as Java moss, pothos and philodendron) to provide a dry area. Tanks with water should have an appropriately sized filter to keep water clean

  • Décor - Provide rocks, cork bark or driftwood for climbing and plants and half logs for hiding.  A variety of décor will help provide enrichment for your toad
  • Substrate - Use large, stacked-up flat rocks along with coconut fiber, damp sphagnum moss and floating cork bark to provide a land area where toads can climb from the water. Avoid gravel, which can cause gastrointestinal tract obstruction if ingested, and reptile carpet, which is too rough and can damage toads’ sensitive skin
  • Temperature – These toads do well at room temperature (not to exceed 82°F for daytime or below 65°F for nighttime). Temperatures higher than 82°F can dry out toads and be detrimental to their health. An under-tank heater or low-wattage bulb can help maintain the appropriate temperature. At least two thermometers (in the dry area and in water) should be used to monitor habitat temperatures
  • Humidity – 50 to 80% humidity is ideal and should be monitored with a humidity gauge. Having habitats that are half water, with live plants and sphagnum moss, will help maintain adequate humidity levels. Habitats can be misted with dechlorinated water daily to help maintain humidity 
  • Lighting – While some sources suggest that fire-bellied toads do not require ultraviolet (UV) lighting, they do well with low-level UVB light for 10 to 12 hours per day, as these toads are diurnal and exposed to UV light in nature, which helps them make vitamin D in their skin and ensure dietary calcium absorption for strong bones. Plus, UVB lighting also helps establish a clear day/night cycle, which is important to their normal behavior. Provide hiding places for toads to escape the light, as needed

Cleaning your habitat

If using a bowl of water buried in substrate in a semiaquatic terrarium, remove the bowl, scrub it with a reptile habitat cleaner or 3% bleach solution, rinse it thoroughly, then replace the water (dechlorinated and at the appropriate temperature) daily before returning it to the habitat.

  • Thoroughly clean the remainder of the habitat at least once a week: 
  • Place toad in a secure habitat
  • Scrub the tank and furnishings with a reptile habitat cleaner or 3% bleach solution
  • Rinse thoroughly with hot water so no residue remains. It is imperative that all traces of the cleaner or bleach solution are gone
  • Dry the tank and furnishings completely before putting toads back in the habitat 
  • Add clean substrate plus 1 to 2 inches of dechlorinated water at the appropriate temperature if habitat is an aquarium before placing fire-bellied toad back into the habitat.

 

Feeding 

What to feed 

A well-balanced fire-bellied toad diet consists of:

Things to remember when feeding your fire-bellied toad:

  • Feed juvenile toads every other day, placing food on the land area of the tank. Adult toads may only need to be fed one to two times per week
  • Toads love to hunt and will aggressively go after moving prey
  • Healthy toads have voracious appetites and enjoy a varied diet
  • Insects should be no larger than the width of the toad’s head
  • Sprinkle food with calcium supplement daily and a multivitamin supplement once or twice a week
  • These toads recognize routine and should be fed at the same time every day

 

Care

Don’t handle these toads unless necessary, as they (like most amphibians) secrete toxins from their skin to ward off predators. Always wear latex gloves when handling your toad, as residue or oil on your skin can harm amphibians’ delicate skin. Use a small fish net when you need to move the toad such as when cleaning the habitat. Do not allow toad’s secretions to contact your eyes, mouth or open wounds. 

Supplies

 

Tank mates 

You may house fire-bellied toads together but do not house different amphibian species together.

Health 

Signs of a healthy toady

  • Active and alert
  • Clear eyes, nose and mouth
  • Skin free of hanging shed skin, sores, wounds or discoloration
  • Clear vent
  • Plump, rounded body 
  • Eats and passes stool regularly
  • Hopping and swimming
  • Hunts prey actively

Red flags

  • Weight loss or decreased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Bloated abdomen or other body parts
  • Skin lesions or discoloration
  • Distressed breathing
  • Weak movements
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dull reactions
  • Excess hanging shed skin
  • Discharge or bubbles from eyes, nose or mouth

Common fire-bellied toad health issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health IssueChemical intoxication Symptoms or CausesCaused by exposure to soap, detergent, pesticides, oils on human skin, etc. Suggested ActionConsult your veterinarian and protect your amphibian from exposure.
Health IssueIntestinal obstruction Symptoms or CausesLethargy, decreased appetite, bloating. Caused by swallowing gravel or other indigestible substrate or by eating too many hard-shelled insects. Suggested ActionConsult your veterinarian; surgery may be required.
Health IssueNutritional deficiencies Symptoms or CausesWeak hind legs, lethargy, change in skin color. Suggested ActionConsult your veterinarian and ensure varied diet; use vitamin and mineral supplements.
Health IssueSkin problems Symptoms or CausesLesions, sores and discoloration of skin caused by trauma or bacterial, parasitic and fungal infections. Suggested ActionConsult your veterinarian.

 

FAQs 

  • How long do fire-bellied toads live? Fire-bellied toads can live up to 7 to 15 years with proper care.
  • What do fire-bellied toads eat? Fire-bellied toads eat gut-loaded (recently fed) crickets, mealworms, waxworms, Dubia roach nymphs, small earthworms, hornworms, silkworms and black soldier fly larvae dusted with calcium and vitamin supplements.
  • How long can fire-bellied toads go without eating? Fire-bellied toads can go up to 2 weeks without eating, but this isn’t good for them. If they are not eating and the temperature is appropriate, they should be checked out by a veterinarian.
  • What animals can live with fire-bellied toads? If setting up a larger ecosystem, they can live with small day geckos, tree frogs and green anoles because they all are active during the day and live in separate areas of the same ecosystem. Habitats should be large enough to accommodate all of the inhabitants.
  • Where do fire-bellied toads live in the wild? In nature, they live in semiaquatic (part water and part land) environments and are native to China, Korea and parts of Russia.
  • How big do fire-bellied toads get? Fire-bellied toads grow to 2 to 3 inches long.
  • Where are fire-bellied toads from? Fire-bellied toads are native to China, Korea and parts of Russia.
  • How many fire-bellied toads can live in a 10-gallon tank? No more than two fire-bellied toads should reside in a 10-gallon tank.
  • What do fire-bellied toad eggs look like? Fire-bellied toad eggs are small, black, laid in groups (called clutches) of seven to 45 eggs every seven to 10 days, and they are covered in a clear, sticky, jelly-like substance that absorbs water to help keep the eggs hydrated.

 

Additional care sheets

 

Notes & sources 

Ask a Pet Care Center employee about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all toads are potential carriers of infectious diseases such as salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your toad and/or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of diseases.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physicians before purchasing and/or caring for a toad and should consider having a pet other than a toad.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov/healthypets for more information about toads and disease.

The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please contact your veterinarian as appropriate.