Paperback Cover Image

Firebelly Toads

If this

Firebelly sitting upright.

turned into this

Firebelly toad displaying unken reflex

would you stare or run away?

These are real pictures of how a firebelly toad can transform himself. The first image shows how a firebelly spends most of his time: upright, alert, and looking around for crickets. The picture below shows his startling defense mechanism called an unken reflex. On rare occasions when a firebelly feels threaten or mistreated and cannot jump or swim away, he rolls onto his back, puffs up his fire-red belly, and secretes a toxic milky liquid.

Oriental firebelly toads, whose Latin name is Bombina Orientalis, are neither true frogs nor true toads. They have enough unique characteristics to be members of their own family, Bombinatoridae (they used to be in the family discoglossidae). However, in common usage, they are referred to as both firebelly toads and firebelly frogs.

Firebellies are indigenous to parts of Asia, including Thailand, Korea, and parts of China. In the United States, they are very popular pets and available in many pet stores.

Adult males and females are similar in appearance and size, about 2 to 2.5 inches in length. Determining sex is best done by noting a firebelly's behavior: only the male makes sounds. When looking for a mate the male will be the one jumping onto the back of other toads. (If he jumps on another male, the mistaken firebelly will let out a special croak.)

The female lays 40-100 eggs at a time and attaches these to plants near the water’s edge. In a few days, the eggs hatch. The tiny tadpoles are sustained by absorbing the remains of the their yolk sacs. In about a week, they begin to move about and eat tidbits of food floating in the water. Around 6-8 weeks, rear legs and lungs begin to develop. At 8-14 weeks, the tadpoles’ tales start to absorb into their bodies and the tiny amphibians crawl onto the land and look for food.

A firebelly cannot extend his tongue beyond his mouth. This means he must be very close to his prey in order to catch it. Since the firebelly can only see a bug when it is moving, he will remain still until he sees an enticing movement and then jump or crawl in the direction of motion. Getting close enough may take a long time, especially if the bug only occasionally moves. When a firebelly has found just the right position, he will wait for one last wiggle of an antennae or flick of a leg, and then lunge at his prey with his whole body. If he is successful in grabbing the insect, he will use his front feet to stuff the bug into his mouth and have a delicious meal.

If you would like to read a unique story that has a firebelly toad as the main character, consider Firebelly, a story about a frog who has the choice between a comfortable life as a pet and an adventurous life in the wild. In this book, you will also discover a world of ideas that has caught the imagination of readers around the world.

Waiting for my cricket

firebelly sittting


firebelly sitting

My Underside

firebelly underside

Play a Firebelly Game