Fire bellied toads make great pets for a first-time amphibian owner. They do not require too much space and are pretty easy to care for.
Genus and species
There are several species of fire bellied toads. The one most commonly found as pets is Bombina orientalis, also known as the oriental fire bellied toad.
In the wild, they can be found in Northeast China, Korea, and a small area of Southeast Russia in forest areas with streams or marshes and even rice paddies.
Fire bellied toads can live 10-15 years in the wild. In captivity with excellent care, they may even live up to 20 years.
Around 2 inches
How to tell males from females
Physically, they can be difficult to tell apart. Males have slightly rougher skin and their front legs are thicker.
Males are the ones that vocalize. I currently have 2 toads and they never make any noise, so I believe mine are both females!
Fire bellied toads are diurnal, which means they are awake and active during the day. They are semi-aquatic. They like to spend time in the water as well as on land and will move back and forth between the two throughout the day.
Fire bellied toads are gregarious, meaning they tend to live together in a group.
Fire bellied toads regularly shed their skin. I notice mine turn a quite bit darker before they shed and after they shed, they are a nice green again. They actually eat their shed skin for the nutrients, so you will never see their shed skin like you would a snake. If they ever have trouble shedding their skin, you will need to increase the humidity in their enclosure and make sure you are misting it regularly.
Fire bellied toads are semi-aquatic, so they require both land and water areas in their enclosure. They like to move between the two areas throughout the day. There are several ways you can create these different areas in your enclosure.
The enclosure I use for my 2 fire bellied toads is a 10-gallon aquarium that is approximately 40% water area and 60% land. Mine seem to spend more of their time on land and sometimes they like to dig hiding areas in the substrate.
To create my water area, I bought a square plastic container about 8-½ inches wide and 3 inches deep. I then filled the rest of the aquarium with substrate right up to the top rim of the container. I also keep the water in the container close to the rim. This makes it easy for the toads to get in and out of the water. I also got some flat rocks and used aquarium sealant to glue them together in a stack that the toads can also use to climb out of the water.
Another way to create land and water areas is you can buy an aquarium divider and put water on one side and substrate on the other. I prefer to use a plastic container for my water area as I find it easy to clean that way.
There are many other ways you can do it. You can go on Pinterest and search for something like “fire bellied toad enclosure” and you will see some really great ways people have set theirs up. You can keep it pretty simple or you can get creative if you want!
The minimum size enclosure would be a 10-gallon aquarium. You can house 1-3 fire bellied toads in a 10 gallon. If you want more toads, then you will need a larger aquarium.
For the land area, I prefer to use coconut fiber substrate. It holds moisture well and helps keep humidity in the enclosure. My toads also like to occasionally dig under their decorations and make their own hide area and it holds its form well so their cave doesn’t collapse on them. You can also grow live plants in it.
There are several brands available. I use Exo Terra Plantation Soil.
For the water area, I don’t use any substrate as I find it easier to clean without any. I have a stack of rocks that have been glued together with aquarium sealant to help them get in and out. If you wish, you can use aquarium gravel or smooth rocks.
Fire bellied toads need 8-12 hours of daytime and 8-12 hours of nighttime. I have not been able to find good data on whether fire bellied toads require UVB lighting or not. Since they are diurnal, I decided to provide it for mine as it may help them synthesize D3 and metabolize calcium. If you decide to grow live plants in the enclosure, the UVB lighting will be beneficial to them as well. I use a low UVB bulb and replace it yearly. I use Zoo Med ReptiSun 5.0.
I use a light fixture that allows me to put 2 bulbs in it and it has two separate switches so I can decide which bulbs I want to use. The UVB bulb is on one side and the red heat light on the other side. In the summer, I only turn on the UVB bulb, but in the winter I turn on both.
Heating and temperature
The ideal temperature is between 65 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid temperatures above 82 Fahrenheit as they do not tolerate it well. In the winter, my house can get a bit cold, so I use a red heating bulb.
Water and humidity
All water that goes into their enclosure must be safe. Never use distilled water as it lacks needed minerals. You can use bottled drinking water or tap water. If you use tap water, it must be free of chlorine. An easy way to dechlorinate is to leave an open container of tap water out for at least 24 hours and the chlorine will dissipate. Another way is to use a dechlorinator treatment which can be found in any fish department. Depending on the brand, it is usually just a couple drops per gallon.
You should also mist the enclosure with a spray bottle once or twice a day depending on how dry it is where you live to keep the humidity up. Humidity should be around 50-80%.
Decor and hiding places
Fire bellied toads like to hide occasionally so you should provide them somewhere to do so like a coconut hut, cork bark, driftwood, foliage, or decorative hides that look like rocks, a log, etc
Diet and supplements
Their diet entirely consists of live prey such as crickets, mealworms, earthworms, wax worms, small feeder fish. Never feed wild caught insects as they may have parasites and disease that you do not want to infect your fire bellied toads with.
Make sure you feed the proper size prey and not too large as they could have problems. An adult can eat small to medium-sized crickets and mealworms. Earthworms would have to be cut into smaller pieces.
Fire bellied toads should be fed 2-3 times per week and the insects dusted with vitamins once a week. Insects should be dusted with calcium with vitamin D3 and a multivitamin. I am using these ones: Zoo Med Reptile Calcium and Rep-Cal Herptivite . I use a plastic bag with equal parts of the two vitamin supplements and gently shake the insects in it to coat them. Prior to feeding to your toads, the insects should be fed a good diet (gut loaded) to make the insects more nutritious for them.
If you have multiple fire bellied toads, watch and make sure they are all getting food. Sometimes one individual will pig out get all the food and others may not get any. You can even feed them in a separate container to ensure they all get food.
Fire bellied toads should be handled as little as possible. Their skin secretes a toxin which is harmful if you ingest it or get it in your eyes. If you must handle them, make sure you wash your hands before as anything on your skin can irritate their skin. Also, always wash your hands after handling them or anything in their enclosure.
Enclosure cleaning and maintenance
Make sure to remove any dead insects daily. Regularly change the water. Wipe the glass clean. If you get hard water spots on the glass, you can use a little bit of white vinegar mixed in water and then rinse well.
- Aquarium 10 gallons or larger
- Aquarium cover
- Plastic container for water area (the one I use is 8-½ x 8-½ x 3 inches deep)
- Light fixture
- UVB bulb
- Heat bulb
- Coconut Fiber Substrate
- Zoo Med Reptile Calcium
- Rep-Cal Herptivite
- Flat slate rocks
- Aquarium sealant (to glue the rocks together)
- Plants – live or plastic
- Decorative background – I use this cork tile background
Do you already own fire bellied toads or are planning on getting some?