In this caresheet I’ll be covering everything you need to know about Oriental Fire Bellied Toads (Bombina orientalis), including housing, heating, lighting, diet and more.
If you’re looking for Oriental Fire Bellied Toads for sale in the UK, or any other type of tree frog, dart frog, horned frog or toad, check out what we have in stock.
An Introduction to Fire Bellied Toads
There are six species of Fire Bellied Toad. European, Yellow Bellied, Yunnan, Oriental, Apennine and Hubei. The two most common, and the ones that this caresheet will specifically cover are the Oriental Fire Bellied Toad (Bombina orientalis) and the European Fire Bellied Toad (Bombina bombina). You’ll often see their name shortened in the hobby to Fire Bellied Toads, or even just FBT.
The Oriental Fire Bellied Toad (Bombina orientalis) is native to China, Thailand, Korea, South East Asia and in some parts of Russia. European Fire Bellied Toad (Bombina bombina) are native to a wide variety of habitats across mainland Europe including countries such as Austria, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Turkey and more! The European Fire Bellied Toad is slightly larger than the Oriental Fire Bellied Toad, but only by about half an inch or so.
Fire Bellied Toads have a long lifespan – up to 20 years in captivity.
The colour of these two species varies from bright green to a dull brown with black spots, and a bright red underside, from which the common name originates. Oriental Fire Bellied Toads are often a brighter green than European Fire Bellied Toads, which can be a duller or darker green or even brown or mud coloured depending on the region they come from. In the hobby these two species can be mixed up, but an easy way of identification is to look at the tips of the toes. Oriental Fire Bellied Toads will have orange, red or yellow tips on their toes.
European Fire Bellied Toad (Bombina bombina) in the wild:
Oriental Fire Bellied Toad (Bombina orientalis) in the wild:
Fire Bellied Toads grow from 1.5 to 2 inches in size and are kept in groups in a semi aquatic enclosure. European Fire Bellied Toads on the other hand will have toes that match the rest of the hand, usually brown or black. They’re an active and interesting species.
You’ll find a mix of wild caught and captive bred Fire Bellied Toads in the UK. Here at Reptile Cymru we are lucky enough to have a few local breeders allowing us to primarily stock captive bred youngsters. If you’re purchasing wild caught individuals be aware that they may need more time to acclimatize and should be quarantined well. Never introduce wild caught frogs into an existing enclosure without a good period of quarantine (2-4 weeks minimum) to ensure they’re not harboring problems that could be passed onto your existing frogs.
Oriental Fire Bellied Toads make a great starter frog, but try to purchase captive bred if at all possible.
Housing Oriental Fire Bellied Toads
We recommend a glass terrarium for housing Oriental Fire Bellied Toads. This is a species that prefers a semi aquatic environment. As such wooden vivariums will easily warp and not hold the humidity as well and be difficult to create a paludarium in. There are a wide range of glass enclosures perfect for their needs available from Exo Terra and Habistat.
Bombina orientalis is usually terrestrial in the wild and semi aquatic, but will spend some time climbing branches and sturdy plants, such as bromeliads. We recommend providing some height to allow for a varied and natural forest environment, as well as to enable different levels of plant growth if using live plants.
A 45x45x45cm enclosure should be able to house up to four adults, but the more space and the more natural and environment you create for this frog, the better. A 60x45x45cm would be excellent for a group.
Water Needs & Humidity
For an ideal setup we’d recommend keeping them in a paludarium – that’s a tank with a water area (approximately 1/2th of the tank). A filter will be required for a large body of water as these frogs create a lot of waste. You’ll see the frogs happily swimming and bobbing in the water, as well as spending time on land. You can create this water either by using half of the tank as a water area or by providing a very large/deep tub.
Humidity should be around 65-80% and obtained with once to twice daily misting. Always have a hygrometer in the enclosure so you can tell if the humidity is too low or too high.
Heating & Lighting
Fire Bellied Toads require a moderate temperature of 75F and shouldn’t exceed 80F. The temperature can drop to 65F – 70F overnight. We’d recommend a heat mat on one side of the tank to achieve these temperatures, attached to a thermostat. You can also use a daylight basking bulb or a ceramic bulb as long as you fully test your temperatures and ensure the tank isn’t getting too hot. A digital day / night temperature will allow you to set two temperatures to cover both day and night.
We highly recommend a low level UVB bulb for all frogs, and would recommend a T5 Shadedweller kit for this frog. This will also provide light for a natural photoperiod. Check out our article explaining the different types of UVB and how it benefits the animals we keep, even if they are nocturnal. You are much more likely to see your Fire Bellied Toads being active and hunting during the day if providing UVB lighting.
If you’re keeping live plants in the enclosure, then a Jungle Dawn LED bar or bulb will be perfect for plant growth.
Always measure your temperature with an accurate thermometer.
Decor & Substrate
When it comes to amphibian care in general, we recommend you go as natural as possible, so plant the enclosure out with a deep substrate that holds water well. Fire Bellied Toads are perfect for a bioactive enclosure and live plants. For a substrate we recommend Arcadia Earthmix or Coir. If adding live plants you’ll need a layer of drainage balls and mesh to avoid the plant roots rotting with too much water.
Have some sturdy branches or bushes, and you can use plastic plants to create foliage and options towards the top of the tank. Although the Fire Bellied Toad will spend the majority of it’s time on the ground, adding plenty of coverage and hiding places at all levels of the tank will help it feel secure. Once established, Fire Bellied Toads are a social, active and confident species that you should see regularly out in the open.
We sell everything you need for a natural looking enclosure, whether you decide to go for artificial or a full bioactive setup.
Fire Bellied Toads do not have an extendable tongue and will consume prey by jumping on it with their mouths open. They are not ambush feeders, so do not wait for food to come to them – instead they will happily chase their prey, which is always fun to watch. Feed small prey such as small crickets, small locusts, mini mealworms, waxworms, silk worms, fruit flies, springtails and similar. They don’t need to be fed every day as adults, in fact three times a week is fine, and just as many prey items as they can eat in fifteen minutes or so.
If your enclosure has UVB then we recommend a straight calcium twice a week, and a multivitamin with D3 once a week.
If your enclosure does not have UVB then we recommend a straight calcium once a week and a multivitamin with D3 twice a week.
Our livefood is delivered gutloaded, but this should be continued at home to make them as nutritional as possible.
Complete Shopping List
Here’s a shopping list of things you’ll need before buying your Fire Bellied Toad. Feel free to print it off if you’re heading into your local shop.
Fire Bellied Toads should not be handled. They secrete a toxin that whilst not seriously dangerous to humans, can cause skin reactions. If you do need to handle your Fire Bellied Toad, for example for a health check or to move them, always make sure you properly wash your hands afterwards. Handling amphibians in general causes them stress and is not advised, but you can interact with your frogs by hand feeding them once they get used to you.
If threatened the Fire Bellied Toad has a defense mechanism that is called the unkenreflex. They will flip upside down, lie on their back, inflate their body and secrete their toxins at their maximum amount. This will display their bright red belly as a warning, whilst also maximizing their chance that anything that tries to eat them will get a mouthful of toxin. This works against most predators, although some snakes such as grass snakes are unaffected by their toxin and will eat them regardless. If your frog shows this reflex to you, they are feeling very threatened and defensive, so evaluate what you were doing which caused it so you can avoid it in the future and leave them alone in their tank. A few minutes after the threat has passed they will flip themselves back over and carry on as normal.
Sexing Fire Bellied Toads can be challenging before maturity. Once mature you can listen for the males barking call and he will also develop nuptial pads on the first and second digit. He may display territorial actions which involve kicking or vibrating the water sending out a message to keep other males away. Females are slightly larger and have a more rounded appearance than males, who are more flat in appearance. Females don’t vocalise at all. If you have a large group and can compare, you can usually see which ones of the females based on being the largest in the group, but with a solo frog or a pair it can be hard to tel based solely on size.
Social Needs and Housing Together
Fire Bellied Toads can be kept in groups and generally get on okay communally, but this is not a co-operative species, so there can be some aggression or jostling for the best spots or food. Most people keep them in groups and together they show interesting active behaviours, as well as communication, but do watch out for any frogs being bullied and ensure everyone is getting enough food.
During breeding season if you have two many males in the tank then aggression can occur. Although they don’t have a large territory in the wild, they are defensive about their small claim. Only one male can lay claim to the water area in a small tank and other male frogs may be upset by this or try to jostle for territory. If you find this happening, you may need to separate your males out or have a larger tank. Having lots of visual barriers can help with territorial issues.
Fire Bellied Toads should not be housed with any other species of reptile or amphibian, not even small geckos like mourning geckos. This is because their skin secrets toxins that can be absorbed by the substrate or left on the decor. Even if your mourning gecko doesn’t come into contact with your Fire Bellied Toad, they could be made ill by the toxins in the tank.
Are Fire Bellied Toads Noisy?
Fire Bellied Toads are not especially noisy, but the males have an unusual call which some people think sounds like a dog barking!
If wild caught Fire bellied toads can be stressed and carry parasites. Monitor carefully for any signs of internal or external parasites and never introduce new Fire Bellied Toads into an existing collection without a quarantine period.
Fire Bellied Toads are susceptible to fungal and bacterial skin conditions. If you see any pus or oozing on the skin you should separate the ill frog immediately and seek veterinary attention, where it can be treated. Red Leg Disease is something that can be developed in both wild caught and captive bred frogs. This would make your Fire Bellied Toad have unusually red legs as well as being sluggish and lifeless. This too can be treated by a veterinarian.
In general these are an easy to care for Toad that are very hardy and most exceed 10 to 15 years in captivity, with some reaching as old as 20 years old, but always make sure you know where your local exotic veterinarian is in case of any problems.
I hope that this Fire Bellied Toad care guide has answered all your questions, but don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you have a question or free to drop us an email or a message on Facebook.