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The colony of oriental fire-bellied toads on exhibit arrived at the Zoo on May 13, 1998.
Oriental fire-bellied toads are active during the day so our visitors can enjoy them with ease. These frogs are fun to observe, with their clumsy movement and gregarious habits; they sometimes climb atop each other in the moss covered log in their habitat enclosure. When in the water, they show their strikingly colored bellies.
Reptile and Amphibian House
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Although it is typically referred to as toads, these frogs belong to the family Bombinatoridae and do not belong to the true toad family (Bufonidae). They are referred to as toads because of their warty skin, short snout and their legs, which are much like those of a toad, adapted for a terrestrial and semi aquatic existence.
Estimating the age of frog in the wild is difficult. However, in captivity these frogs can live up to 8 years or more. The record goes to a fire belly toad from a collection in Europe that lived for 20 years!
These frogs are diurnal, swimming along the banks in search of food and mates. They are very active and sometimes float at the water surface, showing their soft, strikingly colored belly as a warning to potential fishes that might try to eat them. The bright colors tell fishes that the frog’s skin is full of bad-tasting toxic chemicals.
On land, frogs of the genus Bombina exhibit a defensive posture called the unkenreflex. When confronted by a predator, it turns over and curves its bright belly upward, covering the eyes with its palms. Another defensive posture is to curve its body downward, lift up the head, and curve the extremities, showing the bright spots on its flanks and on the ventral surface of the extremities. The red color pattern is believed to warn potential predators of the toxins in the frog’s skin, and the unkenreflex is believed to startle or confuse predators.
Male fire-bellied toads have a soft voice. During the breeding season, males call incessantly during the day and evening trying to attract a mate. Once a female selects its partner she swims around with a male on her back and finds a suitable place for egg deposition, usually in a quite part of the stream or pond. About 200 eggs are typically attached singularly or in small groups to plants, rocks, roots.
Both sexes are of similar size, although females can be slightly larger (55-62 mm).
These frogs are rather heavy for their size; especially in captivity and can weigh up to 24 g, but usually weigh between 8 and 14 g.
The tadpoles of the Oriental fire-bellied toad are herbivores consuming algae, fungi, and plants. When the toads become adults they switch their diet to a variety of invertebrates, including worms, insects, and mollusks. At the Zoo, the toads are offered a variety of invertebrates including, fruit flies, crickets and small worms.
Found in mountain ponds and streams at medium to high elevations (1700-3000 m or 5300-10000 feet above sea level) in SE Siberia, NE China and Korea.
Conservation at a Glance
Learn more about the amphibian conservation efforts at the Philadelphia Zoo.
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