Essential Care for Oriental Fire Bellied Toads

An oriental fire bellied toad is a great choice of pet for inexperienced exotic pet owners. This is because they are relatively hardy animals which are easy care for.

Due to their small size (approx. 5 cm), these visual striking amphibians take up little space and are an extremely intriguing pet to keep.

Origin of fire bellied toads

Oriental fire bellied toads are native to north-eastern Asia, where the climate is humid and warm – China, Korea and southern Japan. They live in slow-moving streams and in the surrounding forests.

As their name suggests, the underside of this species of toad is bright orange and black which closely resembles the flames of a roaring fire! Whereas the back is bright green and black.

In the world of frogs and toads, you may already be aware that bright colours are a warning sign to potential predators that they are poisonous. Glands in the toad’s skin secrete a toxin which is released with contact.

Toads displaying their belly are usually doing so as a defensive behaviour and are effectively announcing their toxicity.

Temperament and Behaviour

Unlike many other amphibians, fire belling toads are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day. This means you can spend time observing their interesting behaviours.

Whilst handling is possible, you should avoid regular handling due to the potential toxicity with contact.

Fire bellied toads are renowned for being escape artists, so a secure aquarium lid is a must!

Environmental needs

Much like all other exotic pets, due to their wild relatives originating from exotic climates, the environment must closely match that of their native country and habitat. This is an important aspect of ensuring your pet toad stays healthy.

Housing

The best housing for a fire bellied toad is a glass terrarium. The size of this should be at least 10 gallons if not larger. Several toads can be kept in a large enough tank.

As toads are semi-aquatic, they will need 50% of the enclosure to be a dry area, and the other 50% should be a suitable depth of water for swimming in – approx. 2-4 inches in depth.

An option to achieve this can be to use aquarium gravel and slope it up on one side. Then fill the water so that the highest part of the slope remains dry. Alternatively, you can create dry areas by using flat rock, such as slate. However, be sure to use smooth rocks to prevent injury.

Temperature and Humidity

To contribute to the required humidity, the use of live plants and moss is recommended. These can also double as hiding areas, but you can also add more purpose-built structures for hides – a plant pot for example. Cork bark and logs also make great hiding places.

Fire bellied toads do well at a temperature of around 78°F (26°C), you can do this by providing a basking area with a low wattage lamp over the dry area of the enclosure.

Tank Cleaning

It is advisable to use a water filter to reduce the amount of waste build up in the tank. As a rule, you can expect toads to produce a fair amount of waste and release toxins into the water. Therefore, despite a filter, regular full and partial water changes will be necessary as part of the essential care needs of your pet toad.

Water placed in the tank must be dechlorinated or use fresh spring water. This species of toad is particularly sensitive to chemicals so be sure to keep the water as clean and natural as possible.

What do you feed a pet toad?

Fire bellied toads are omnivorous and do well on a diet of live crickets, waxworms, snails, earthworms and other insects. To ensure the nutritional needs of your toad are fully met, you should dust live prey with a suitable vitamin powder.

Fire bellied toads will not eat dead prey, as it is movement that triggers them to lunge, catch and eat. So, when you commit to having a fire bellied toad as a pet, you also must commit to storing and feeding live prey!

Adult toads should be fed two to three times a week. Avoid overfeeding so your pet toad does not become overweight.

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