Fire Belly Toad Care Sheet
While there are a 6 species of Fire Bellied Toads the two most common to the pet trade are Bombina bombina and Bombina orientalis which is why this care sheet specifically mentions these species but the information below can generally be applied to other species as well.
So what is the difference between the species? Bombina bombina is a European variety whose coloration is greenish grey or brown on top with a bright orange red under side, Bombina orientalis comes from Southern Asia and is dark green or bright grass green with small black spots or bumps on its back and a bright red underneath. Both will grow to about 2 – 3.5 inches (5.8 - 8.89cm) and will live from 10 – 15 years with proper care.
Fire Bellied Toads make good pets for the beginning amphibian keeper so long as attention is paid to maintaining the proper environment for them to live in which is relatively easy.
Please note that while Fire Bellied Toads are not particularly toxic to humans through skin contact, as with all amphibians, they should not be handled any more than absolutely necessary due to the negative effects of human skin oils on them.
*Always Wash Your Hands Both Before And After Handling These Animals*
In addition you should never house Fire Belly Toads with any other species of animal including but not limited to fish. The toxins produced by FBTs can be transferred into the water and onto dry surfaces which can prove fatal to other species of animals in an enclosed environment.
A 10 gallon (37.85 liter) aquarium is sufficient to house 2 or 3 Fire Belly Toads and should be considered the smallest size aquarium to use with this species even if only 1 is kept. If you wish to keep more than 3 toads it is recommended that you allow 4 additional gallons (15.14 liters) of space per additional toad. Ie, in a 20 gallon (113.6 liter) you could safely keep 5 Fire Belly Toads. Due to the possible territorial nature of males of this species you should not keep more than 1 male in any thing less than a 30 gallon (113.6liter) long aquarium.
A tight fitting screen top is recommended to allow adequate ventilation and prevent the toads from escaping.
I recommend a set up consisting of 1/3rd land area 2/3rds water for these water loving semi aquatic toads. This can be done by sectioning off an area across the back of the aquarium for the land area or at one end.
First lay down a layer of gravel about 1 inch (2.54cm) deep on the bottom of the enclosure then either with cleaned decontaminated drift wood, rock or like material make a barrier 4 inches (10.16cm) high that will create the front face of the land mass keeping in mind the fact that the frogs will need to be able to climb out of the water onto this area. It may be necessary to use aquarium sealant to affix this barrier into place. Next fill the area behind the barrier with gravel to within ½ inch (1.27cm) of the top of the barrier. On top of the gravel in the land area lay down a layer of moss or like substrate to prevent the ingestion of gravel by the toads and to protect their delicate skin possible abrasions from the gravel. Now by adding plants, artificial silk or real, to the water and land areas as well as some hiding places on the land area you are ready to fill the water area to within 1 inch (2.54cm) of the top of the barrier.
The water you use in your toads enclosure should be dechlorinated. This can be accomplished by the use of commercially available dechlorinating chemicals, using chlorine free water or allowing chlorinated water to stand in an open container for at least 24 hours to allow the chlorine to dissipate.
You should install a submersible filter to assist in maintaining high water quality in your enclosure. To keep the water from having a strong current you can add a rock in front of the water output of the filter.
If you have a filter you will need to do a 25% water change every week and a complete tank clean out with a 100% water change every month. For the 25% water changes it is best to use an aquarium siphon/vacuum which will allow you to actually remove the waste from the gravel in the bottom of the water area of your tank which will make the work of keeping your water clean much easier. A complete clean out is removing everything from the tank and washing everything including the tank (but not the animals or live plants) with a 10% bleach/90% water solution. Rinse everything thoroughly and allow it to dry & air out completely so that there is no trace of the bleach left, then set everything back up.
Without a filter you will need to do a 50% water change every 2 days, a 100% water change every week and a complete clean out every two weeks.
As Fire Belly Toads are diurnal (day active) animals you should provide a source of UVB lighting. In most diurnal animals this is required for the assimilation of calcium into the system. A UVB fluorescent light will also provide necessary lighting for live plants, if you are using them, without producing the heat that incandescent lights create.
It is also good to use a low wattage incandescent spot light bulb to heat an isolated land basking area.
Heaters are usually not required for this toad as they will do quite well if the temperature in the enclosure is kept at 72 – 78F (22.22 - 25.56C) during the day with a localized basking spot temperature of 75 – 85F (23.89 - 29.44C).
At night the temperatures can be safely be allowed to drop to 65F (18.33C) without harm to the toads.
Fire Bellied Toads do not have the long sticky tongues that many frogs and toads are famous for thus they rely on grabbing their prey in their mouths then using their hands to stuff the food in. Not being picky eaters they will eat almost any insect you choose to offer them and benefit greatly from a varied diet. Young FBTs can be fed daily or every other day all they will eat in about 15 minutes. Adults should be fed all they can eat in about 15 minutes 2 or three times a week. The prey insects should be gut loaded and dusted with multi vitamin as well as calcium supplements at each feeding. Any uneaten prey should be removed from the enclosure after the feeding period to prevent dead prey from polluting the toad’s environment.
The following is a list of recommended prey, with nutritional information on each, listed in the order of preference for the nutrition they can provide your toads. Remember that any prey you feed should not be longer than the width of your toad’s mouth.
Silkworms - Protein 54% / Fat 43% / Calcium 0.5% / Phosphorus 0.6% / Chitin (exoskeleton) low amount
Crickets - Protein 50% / Fat 44% / Calcium 0.2% / Phosphorus 2.6% / Chitin (exoskeleton) medium amount (MUST be gut loaded for 24 hours before feeding to your animal for proper nutrition)
Earthworms - Protein 10.39% / Fat 7.2% / Calcium 1.18% / Phosphorus .9% / Chitin (exoskeleton) low amount
House Fly Larvae – Protein 56.5% / Fat 17.2% / Calcium .37% / Phosphorous 1.13% / Chitin (exoskeleton) low amount
Waxworms - Protein 27% / Fat 73% / Calcium 0.1% / Phosphorus 0.9% / Chitin (exoskeleton) (HIGH IN FAT should only be used as an occasional treat)
Though it can sometimes be difficult to sex FBTs there are a number of things you can check and watch for.
Females are generally larger than males of the same age and the skin on their backs is generally smoother.
Males are usually smaller than same age females, the skin on their backs is generally rougher, during the mating season males develop nuptial pads on the first and second fingers and males are the ones that sing/croak/bark/etc.
*Note the nuptial pads on males are often present outside of mating season but may be difficult to see.
John E Dove
Last edited by natas; 03-13-2007 at 04:13 PM.
Re: Fire Belly Toad Care Sheet
Thank you for this excellent article guiding me in the proper set up for my brownies and greenies ( fire belly toads ). I finally know why some are brown and some green. Some are half and half !
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