|# Posted: 4 Aug 2003 03:04
Introduction: Two of the only amphibians that you will see in non-reptile specialty pet stores are the European fire-bellied toad (Bombina bombina) and the Oriental fire-bellied toad (Bombina orientalis). Both of these are usually fairly cheap and are very hardy animals to keep. Both species have red undersides that are speckled in black dots and lines. Oriental fire-bellied toads have much more vibrant colors. Their back, head, arms and legs are a bright grass green with solid black dots. European fire-bellied toads are generally a brownish green or solid brown on top.
Both toads are fairly poisonous which they indicate by showing their bright red belly when threatened. Seven years ago I had one escape from its cage. The next day I found my dog chewing on a dried out dead toad. Immediatly I took the toad away from her but it was too late. For the next 4 weeks my dog vomited at least once every day. To be safe always wash your hands after handling these amphibians or, even better, do not handle them at all.
Cage: A fifteen gallon aquarium (L24" W12" H12") would be large enough for three or four adult animals. Fire-bellied toads are semi-aquatic so they will require a land area and a water area in their cage. The water depth should be varied and gradually slope from 1 inch down to 4 or 5 inches. The water area should cover at least half of the cage. Provide a piece of drift wood, a rock or aquatic plant that sticks out of the water section for the toads to sit on. The land area should have a couple hiding spots like cork bark, rocks and moss. If you are using gravel as the land area I suggest covering it with moist sheet moss, java moss or large river rocks to prevent the toads from swollowing any gravel. Make sure you have a very secure screen cover. Fire-bellied toads can climb up the side of glass very well.
One simple way to make a semi-aquatic aquarium is to use a container that is about half the size of your aquarium and around five inches deep such as a small cat litter tray or tupperwear container. The container will be used as a water area. Make sure to fill in all the sides around the water dish with gravel or moss so that your fire-bellied toads don't get stuck in between the glass and water dish. Put large flat rocks into it so that it is easy for your toads to climb in and out of the water area. This type of setup is good for smaller tanks with 1 or 2 toads. This type of setup also makes water changes very easy to do which can be helpful if a child is caring for the toads.
Another simple way to make a semi-aquatic setup is to use a glass divider to seperate the land and water area. A 5 inch high piece of 1/4 inch glass can be glued into the aquarium using silicone sealant. The land area can then be filled with soil and be planted with many different terrestrial plants. Pieces of slate or river rocks can be stacked in the water area next to the glass divider to create shallow water depths. This type of setup is great for larger display tanks. The water can be changed using an aquarium water vacuum.
I recomend using a small submersible filter to help clean the water. Duetto or Fluval brand filters work very well and will help cut back on the amount of water changes that have to be done. Place a rock or other object in front of the output on the filter so that it doesn't create too much of a current for the toads. If you use tap water make sure to treat it with tap water conditioner to remove chlorine, chloramines and hard minerals.
Lighting: Flourescent lighting isn't necessary unless their are live plants in the tank. On cooler days a low watter heat lamp can be placed above the land area of the tank to provide the toads with a place to warm up.
Temperature: The preferred temperature of these toads is between 72F and 78F, although if the temperature falls below this they will be fine and are even okay if the temperature falls below 60F for short periods of time.
Food: Both the European fire-bellied toads and the Oriental fire-bellied toads will eat most small insects. The size of the insect should not be much larger than the width of the toads head. Small crickets can be the main part of their diet. They will also accept black worms, red worms, small earth earthworms, wax worms and meal worms. Some fire-bellied toads will learn to eat pellets such as Repto-min but these should not make up most of their diet and should only be offered occasionally. Any uneaten food or dead food should be removed from the cage as soon as its noticed.