Oriental Fire-bellied Toad

The Oriental Fire-bellied Toad, is a small (4 cm, 2") semi-aquatic toad species found in Korea, north-eastern China and adjacent parts of Russia. An introduced population exists near Beijing. They are commonly kept as pets in land and water vivariums.


Oriental fire-bellied toads are the most easily recognizable species of Bombina. They are typically a bright green with black mottling dorsally, but their coat may also darken to brown and even black depending on the scenery presented. Like other Bombina species, Bombina orientalis have a bright yellow to red (generally bright reddish-orange) ventral region mottled with dark brown to black. The skin on their dorsal side is covered in small tubercles. Although it is typically referred to as a toad, the Fire-Bellied Toad is not a member of the toad family (Bufonidae.) As such, it may properly be referred to as a toad.

They are noted for their bright green and black coloration on their backs, and brilliant orange and black on their underside. In the wild, B. orientalis eat various types of small aquatic arthropods (among other things) from which they obtain Carotene, which helps to color their bellies. These bright colors serve as a warning to predators of toxicity. The toxin is secreted through the skin mostly on the hind legs and sometimes the belly in a milky-like substance when the frog is disturbed or frightened. Not only will they emit this toxin, they will also lay on their back to show the colour of the belly, indicating its toxicity to any predators.


Like other Bombina species, B. orientalis is mostly aquatic, inhabiting warm, humid forested regions. They spend most of their time in the water, among dense vegetation.The orientalis is also known as the tuti toad.


Breeding takes place in the spring with the warming of the weather and increase in rain. Males call to the females with a light barking croak. They jump onto the back of any other fire-bellied toad that happens to pass by, often leading to male-male confusion, but rarely any sort of fighting. Females lay anywhere from 40 to 100 eggs in a large cluster, usually around submerged plants, near the water's edge. Tadpoles hatch from the eggs in 3–10 days depending on the temperature of the water. The larvae begin to develop legs in 6–8 weeks, and are fully metamorphosed and begin venturing on land in 12–14 weeks.

In captivity

In the United States, B. orientalis is commonly kept as a pet. They are generally a hardy species that do well in captivity if given good water quality. They are commonly fed with small crickets dusted with a calcium powder. They can also be fed with other small insects and grubs. They should not be fed mealworms, as these larva possess hard shells which fire-bellied toads have a hard time digesting or passing.

Fire-bellied Toads are usually fed live food. They only hunt prey which moves, ignoring any food item which is too slow or still. At times, they may even release prey that doesn't put up a strong enough fight. Some keepers have success by "hand" feeding food items, attaching pieces to a long piece of wood or straw and waving it in front of the frogs. Oriental fire-bellied toads can be trained to accept food in this manner.While not the most toxic of amphibians, regular handling is not recommended (avoid if there are cuts on your hands) and your hands should always be washed thoroughly immediately after touching the frog or cleaning the tank. Although harmless to the skin of most, if ingested it can cause discomfort. Because of their mild toxicity, oriental fire-bellied toads should not be kept with most other types of frog or amphibian.

When kept in captivity, it is important to provide adequate hiding places as Bombina orientalis need to feel a sense of security. They tend to spend the majority of their time basking in neck-level dechlorinated water (if they do not completely immerse themselves.) An ideal filter is a type of mini filter, as long as the outlet is blocked in some way ideally by a barrier of stones, it disperses the water better without creating a strong current.

Because members of the Bombina genus have short, round tongues that cannot be pushed out of the mouth, fire-bellied toads cannot spit out items that have been accidentally taken into the mouth. As a result, their enclosures must not include gravel of a size which may be accidentally ingested. Larger rocks, Eco Earth or sand, may be used instead. An animal which swallows a piece of gravel it cannot pass will become impacted and will die unless it receives medical attention.

In captivity, oriental fire-bellied toads have lived for more than a dozen years, with 15 years being common. Some older reports document them as living up to 30 years.

In captivity, providing a source of Beta-Carotene (such as carrots) to the prey insects (crickets) early in a frog's adult stage allows it to develop brighter coloration.

Oriental fire-bellied toads should be kept in water, with some kind of land or island which allows them to periodically climb out of the water. Be careful though, these frogs aren't strong swimmers and may drown in water that is too deep. An ideal enclosure has plenty of land and water-based hiding places, as well as a land-based location suitable for depositing live food. Fire-bellied Toads have a sensitivity to chlorine and chloramine - tap water should be treated or allowed to stand for several days, to allow chlorine to dissipate, before adding it to their environment. Chloramine will not dissipate in this manner, so tap water treated with chloramine must be treated with a dechloramine agent (and then allowed to stand) before being added.


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