Fire-Bellied Toad – Habitat, Care, Diet, Facts

One of the fewest toads who cannot extend their tongues, Fire-Bellied Toads are an interesting case to talk about. With brown warts, black and bright-green spots on its back, this toad looks wild even before you see the red patterns on its belly.

It has a smooth belly with only a few striations, colored in red and orange. All these verdant colors seem friendly and cool at first glance but that’s far from it.

When the Fire-Bellied Toad meets a predator, it will reveal its belly by arching its back and even flipping over on its back. The black and red coloration on their bellies is a clear indicator of poison.

Predators will think twice before trying to eat these toads. While not exactly deadly, this poison irritates the mouth and eyes of attackers. Most attackers would flee after one failed attempt. Talk about an effective defense mechanism!

Their pupils are triangular, unlike most other toads, and males also have nuptial pads on the first and second fingers of their feet. Found throughout North and South Korea, northeastern China, and some regions of Russia, the Fire-Bellied Toads are an aquatic species.

They rarely get out of their ponds and streams but you may sometimes see them in meadows, forests, and bushlands. During summer, these toads may even go to distances of over 300 meters from the water, looking for food.

Fire-Bellied Toad Natural Habitat

As I said, the Fire-Bellied Toad hails from Korea, China, Japan, and certain parts of Russia. It’s a multiculturalist toad! And before you ask, no, it doesn’t speak Russian, Chinese, or Japanese.

It’s an aquatic amphibian that lives in water all year long and rarely walks out to get a breath of fresh air. When they’re out of the water, these toads are roaming the broadleaved and coniferous forests, looking for something interesting to do or eat.

Between September and May, the hibernation process starts. These toads will look for leaf piles or rotting logs to construct a nest. They may even hibernate at the bottom of streams if they can’t find a more suitable place.

In their natural habitat, adults will reach 5cm in length and may live up to 15 years if no predator eats them. Usually, their poisonous nature puts most predators on guard. But many snake species are known for eating Fire-Bellied Toads without a second thought.

Fire-Bellied Toads are rare even among other frogs and toads. They don’t have eardrums, tympans, or even resonators. So, when you hear a croak coming from its pen, know that this toad doesn’t exhale to make sounds. Instead, it inhales. Its poisonous nature also led to the creation of its “Unken Reflex”, a defensive posture that keeps most predators away.

Fire-Bellied Toad Food & Diet

Fire-Bellied Toads are average eaters that don’t frown upon crickets, waxworms, earthworms, and other insects. You can even feed it guppies and other small feeder fish. Mealworms are a no-go, in my opinion.

Their exoskeleton is very hard, and toads have a hard time digesting it. Wild insects may also contain herbicides, insecticides, and other parasites that could make your toad ill. My advice is to gut-load your toad’s food for extra nutritional value. This means feeding the insects before feeding them to your toad. There’s more nutritional value in them!

You may also dust the prey items with multivitamin powder for something extra. Even when captive, toads and frogs will have a crazy appetite. They’re one of the few species out there that don’t become depressive or anxious in captivity.

If you feed them and provide a suitable habitat, these Fire-Bellied Toads will live a happy life. They’re especially dynamic and active during the day, when all conditions are met.

Usually, young frogs need one meal per day, while adults will eat 2-3 times per week. When you feed them, try feeding them enough food so they’ll be done in 15 minutes. An overfed toad or frog will have an abnormal body shape.

If it starts looking bloated and keeps getting bigger, even though your toad is already an adult, it may be overweight. All frogs are opportunistic eaters, which means they expect rare meals. If you feed them daily, their bodies will assimilate most nutrients for scarcity reasons.

Fire-Bellied Toad Enclosure Setup

Getting a pet frog is a nasty business, especially if you don’t know the first thing about frogs or toads. Fire-Bellied Toads need an aquarium filled with water, with a capacity of about 10 gallons.

This type of aquarium can house 2-3 frogs but if you plan on buying more, add 4 gallons of space per frog. I recommend getting a horizontal aquarium that gives your pet more space to move about. And buy a secure lid, as well. Fire-Bellied Toads will actively try to escape from the enclosure if you let them.

While not exactly a land-dwelling species, Fire-Bellied Toads will go out on land from time to time. Get a semi-aquatic tank and fill half of it with water (about 5-10cm of water depth). As for the land area, place smooth rocks and use a fitting substrate to simulate the frog’s natural habitat.

Make sure you also install a water filtration system and change the water regularly. Use only bottled spring water or dechlorinated stale water because other types are toxic to these toads.

Once a week, you’ll need to clean the aquarium. While doing so, make sure you scrub the decorations and the tank itself with hot water (no detergents or other chemicals). During the cleaning, put the frog in a second aquarium.

In fact, I recommend having two aquariums just in case, and moving the frog between them when you clean the tanks. This will help if your main aquarium breaks or gets badly damaged. With a second one on hand, you won’t have to scramble for an improvisation. You’re welcome!

– Lighting

While most experts agree that Fire-Bellied Toads don’t need UVB lighting, a day and night cycle is necessary. UVB lighting may help the toad absorb calcium, though it doesn’t need it, to be fair.

So, even if it doesn’t have access to direct sunlight, this toad will still thrive just fine. Install an artificial light in the aquarium and keep it on for a regular day cycle. Turn it off after 12 hours have passed, to simulate the night. This will keep your toads synchronized to their natural biological clock.

However, too much light may dry out the tank and damage the toad’s already sensitive skin. That’s why Fire-Bellied Toads don’t stay out in the sun for too long. After finding food and eating their fill, they retreat into the water and away from the harsh rays of the sun.

– Humidity

Frogs and toads don’t do well in arid environments. Death is the most likely conclusion if their humidity levels fall below dangerous limits. Fire-Bellied Toads need water as we humans need oxygen.

A minimum of 65-80% humidity is a must in the aquarium, and you can check for this using a hygrometer. A humidifier will help you keep the humidity high if you can’t do it normally. More specifically, an automatic mister or humidifier is perfect, in my experience.

From what I read, owners of Fire-Bellied Toads ventilate the aquarium and use a special substrate to maintain high humidity. The frog often retreats to the bottom of the aquarium where the humidity is higher.

Most pet owners also keep a hygrometer on hand to measure the overall humidity in the tank. Anything below 65-70% is too low and requires immediate attention.

– Temperature

You don’t need an artificial heater to house a Fire-Bellied Toad. It does great in normal room temperatures. Around 75-78 degrees Fahrenheit is even better for a warmer climate, but not necessary.

A thermometer will help you lower or heighten the temperature as needed. A lamp that maintains a normal day-night cycle offers enough extra heat for these toads. Alternatively, you can place a heat mat under the land portion of the aquarium, which will also increase the humidity inside the tank.

During the night, the temperature may even go as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Fire-Bellied toads are cold-tolerant, even among other frogs and toads. They won’t have a problem if it’s a bit colder, especially during the night.

In the wild, these toads are accustomed to lower temperatures during nighttime. I would also recommend setting a heat mat on one side of the enclosure (side glass), allowing the toad a flexible heating place. It can move away from the glass to cool off and come closer for extra warmth.

– Substrate

I must have formulated this idea quite a few times until now. Turtles, tortoises, frogs, and toads need approximately the same substrates. Coconut husk, sphagnum moss, and potting soil are ideal for making an enclosure for your fire-Bellied Toad.

The land area of the enclosure needs a special substrate to offer enough hydration and keep the overall humidity at its best. The substrate needs to be 5-10cm deep to allow the toad to burrow inside.

You can also add plants, moss, and various hiding places that increase the overall sense of security for your toad. In their natural habitat (mainly ponds), Fire-Bellied Toads are often at risk of falling prey to predators.

They use their surroundings to hide, and this includes tree logs, stones, thick grass, underwater hiding spots, and so on. You can improvise with anything, as long as you make it realistic.

Fire-Bellied Toad Breeding

After the hibernation period is over, Fire-Bellied Toads will start mating mid-May, when the temperatures are higher. Males will float on the water and make a “ting-ting” sound similar to musical triangles. They do these sounds for about 15 seconds every time.

When a female is aroused by a male, the male goes into an amplexus position and clasps his feet around the hind limbs. The nuptial pads also help the males to clasp tighter on females.

But if the female refuses to take part in the debauchery, she can usually get out of the male’s grasp. What’s crazy is that, during mating, males become so sex-crazed that they’ll clasp and grasp anything that looks remotely similar to a female toad.

This includes newts, fish, twigs, plants, and even your fingers if you’re not careful. Female Fire-Bellied Toads lay their eggs at different times, so the reproductive periods aren’t all the same.

When the mating ends, the female toad will lay between 40-100 eggs close to the surface of the water, either individually or in clumps. The embryos develop efficiently if they stand in direct sunlight, so the female toad specifically selects a suitable spot.

In 6-8 weeks, the embryos develop legs, and you may even see the tadpoles coming out to breathe. After another 6 weeks, the tadpoles begin their final transformation into amphibians. By the end of September, most tadpoles will have completed their transformation, and a new generation of Fire-Bellied Toads will be born.

Wrap Up

What’s there to be said, other than Fire-Bellied Toads being great? Poisonous but great nonetheless. If you’re thinking of adopting an amphibian, these toads may be the right choice for you. They’re quite friendly, though I recommend you don’t pet them.

They are poisonous, after all. When handling them or when you clean their aquarium, make sure you don’t touch your eyes or mouth. Always wash your hands intensely after petting or handling the toad. Otherwise, these toads are a bag of fun and excitement, especially when you feed them!

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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