amphibian-care

Fire-Bellied Toad Care Sheet

February 12, 2021

fire bellied toad

Fire-bellied toads (Bombina orientalis) are 1-3” long, semi-aquatic, diurnal amphibians. They are native to Korea, northeastern China, Thailand, and southern Japan. They can also be found in certain parts of Russia, and are invasive in Beijing. Their preferred habitat is humid areas close to bodies of water, such as forests, river valleys, swamps, and meadows.

Fire-bellied toads have squat bodies, large mouths, short legs, and bumpy skin. They are easily recognizable due to their bright green backs and red-orange bellies, both mottled with dark brown-black markings.

Fire-bellied toads are beginner-level pet amphibians due to their small size and general hardiness. However, don’t let that fool you into assuming that they’re “throwaway” pets — with good care, they can live up to 30 years!

Minimum enclosure size for fire-bellied toads

The absolute minimum terrarium size for a group of 2-3 fire-bellied toads is 24”L x 12”W x 12”H (15 gallons). Of course, larger is always better if you can manage it! Offering more space means you can provide a more varied landscape and more room for the frogs to explore and exercise.

Cohabitation (keeping multiple fire-bellied toads in one enclosure) is recommended, as these toads seem to do well in groups. Make sure to add at least 5 gallons of space per additional toad. Never house these toads with other amphibian species!

Do fire-bellied toads need UVB?

Fire-bellied toads seem to be able to survive without it, but we still recommend providing appropriate UVB lighting as part of the setup. UVB lighting helps provide a clear day/night cycle, provides all of the vitamin D that your pet needs, strengthens the immune system, facilitates better digestion, and provides other benefits. Plus, it’s quite likely that they are regularly exposed to sunlight in the wild, as fire-bellied toads are primarily active during the day.

The best UVB bulbs for fire-bellied toads are:

  • Zoo Med T8 Reptisun 5.0
  • Arcadia ShadeDweller

For best results, house the UVB bulbs in a reflective fixture such as Vivarium Electronics or the Arcadia ProT5. Position the lamp over the mesh lid on the same side of the terrarium as the heat lamp, about 8-13” above the substrate.

UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so placing the terrarium in front of a window doesn’t count as “free UVB” — in fact it can make your terrarium too hot due to the greenhouse effect. Don’t forget to replace your bulb every 12 months!

Lights should be on for 12 hours/day during summer and 8-9 hours/day during winter.

Best temperature for fire-bellied toads

Like other amphibians, fire-bellied toads are cold-blooded, which means that they rely on external temperatures to manage their own body temperature and metabolism. Although amphibians are generally not as dependent on thermal gradients as reptiles, it’s still important to make sure your frog can thermoregulate as needed.

Fire-bellied toads should have a gentle “basking” air temperature around 78°F. This temperature should drop down to around 70°F at night. Temperatures should never exceed 82°F or drop below 60°F. Make sure you’re maintaining appropriate temperatures with a digital probe thermometer.

Provide heat for your fire-bellied frogs with a low-wattage heat bulb, placed on one end of the enclosure over land, not water. Do not use colored bulbs, as these are not as effective. If the bubs are a little too hot, use a plug-in lamp dimmer to reduce output. If the bulbs are not hot enough, you will need a higher wattage.

Best humidity levels for fire-bellied toads

As amphibians, fire-bellied toads can’t live without ready access to water, especially when they’re still just tadpoles! Average air humidity should stay between 50-80%. Humidity should be measured via digital probe hygrometer, with the probe placed in the middle of the terrarium.

Given that fire-bellied toads are semi-aquatic, around half of the enclosure needs to be shallow (1-2”) water. In other words, you will need to either place a large, removable tub of water inside the enclosure, or create a paludarium setup that functions like a shallow aquarium plus dry land.

If you go the water tub route, waste and debris will need to be removed daily, and the tub itself will need to be removed and scrubbed with animal-safe disinfectant once a week. The new water must be treated with dechlorinator before replacing — never used distilled or reverse-osmosis water for your frog!

If you turn the enclosure into a paludarium, you will need an appropriately-sized filter to keep the water clean, which requires specific routine maintenance of its own. Adding certain live aquatic plants can help maintain good water quality on top of the filter.

Since most of the enclosure is water, maintaining appropriate levels of humidity shouldn’t be an issue. However, if you notice that humidity levels have become too low for some reason, you can increase humidity by misting the enclosure with a spray bottle. A cool mist humidifier connected to a hygrostat can also help where needed.

Best substrate for fire-bellied toads

Providing a thick layer of naturalistic substrate (“bedding”) will help maintain correct humidity levels and helps make your enclosure more attractive! We recommend the following substrates for fire-bellied toads:

Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate. Substrate should be totally replaced every 2 months if you are not running a bioactive setup.

How to decorate a fire-bellied toad paludarium

A bare-bones enclosure makes for a bored toad, reducing its quality of life. Keep your pet entertained and engaged with its environment with the strategic use of décor items that encourage it to exercise natural behaviors!

Décor options for fire-bellied toads include:

Make sure your frog has covered areas to retreat to when it wants privacy.

What to feed to fire-bellied toads

Fire-bellied toads are insectivorous, which means that they need to eat live insect prey in order to get the right nutrition. Each toad should be fed 2-6 appropriately-sized insects 1-2x/week. One appropriately-sized insect will be slightly smaller than the width of the toad’s head.

Food options for fire-bellied toads:

Supplements

You will need to keep calcium and multivitamin supplements on hand to help prevent your pets from developing a nutritional deficiency, helping them live healthier. We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, lightly dusted on prey before offering.

How to handle your fire-bellied toad

Amphibians generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do, and fire-bellied toads in particular are generally a hands-off pet.

If you absolutely have to grab your toads, wear a pair of nitrile gloves, use a small fish net, and gently guide the frogs into a separate, well-secured container. This minimizes likelihood of escape or injury. And of course, make sure to wash your hands after working with your toads or their enclosure!


*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please further your research with high-quality sources. The more you know, the better you will be able to care for your pet!

 


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