Breeding Oriental Fire-bellied Toads

When we got our two fire-bellieds (the male was named J.D. and the female is named Spider) on January 27, 1996, we were told not to put them in a tank with a lot of water or they will breed too much. We were like “Cool!”, so we tried it. We put J.D. and Spider in a 30 gallon tank with two Fowler’s Toads, two Bronze Frogs, and a Southern Leopard Frog. The tank was an aqua-terrarium (a half land and half water set up divided by a piece of plexi-glass) with the water six inches deep. Shortly after putting them in their new tank, the male started calling (which is high-pitched, nasal sounding) and grasping on to the female. This occurs from April to July at temperatures of 76-88 degrees F. He’d even try to mate with the Fowler’s Toads and Bronze Frogs! For about a week, he would hold on to her for hours at a time. Then one morning we woke up and saw a bunch of eggs in the water!

They laid eggs a total of 9 times on the following days: March 29, April 1, April 4, April 6, April 22, April 24, April 26/27?, May 12, and May 23. Each clutch of eggs ranged from 50-100 eggs. The first clutch had the most while the last had the least. The eggs were lightly attached to objects in the water, but some were attached to nothing.

[snip left][/snip]The first thing you should do is place the eggs in a separate tank from the adults. Depending on how many eggs you have will decide on the size of tank you’ll need. You definately need a good filter in the tank. Also you will have to make partial water cleanings. You do this by taking some old water out, then putting clean water in. Make sure the clean water is the same temperature as the old water.

Each day the eggs will change a little. About a week later is when most will be tadpoles. We fed them lettuce(preferably escarole), flake fish food, algae(if any is growing in the water), Bisquick, and tubifex worms. For the lettuce, just drop in a whole leaf. You don’t need to break it up into little pieces. For the flake fish food, crush it so it is like a powder. For Bisquick, sprinkle a little in but not much. It dirties the water easily. For the tubifex worms, break them into little pieces also. Make sure there is always food in the tank. They eat a lot. They’ll start to eat eachother if they don’t get enough food.

The tadpoles can reach to a size of 2 inches. Metamorphosis will probably be completed after 3-4 weeks. When this time comes, put in corkbark or something similar so the toadlets can climb out of the water. They will measure about 2/3 inch and will have yellow bottoms instead of red. We have heard that for some strange reason, this only happens to captive-bred ones. It’s a good idea to separate the toadlets to a different tank because a lot of them were eaten by the tadpoles.

This is when it got challenging. Again, depending on how many toadlets you have will decide on how big the tank should be. We used 5 gallon plastic tanks with about 15 toadlets in each. We had to overcrowd them a bit due to the lack of tanks and money. Probably a little less then half survived to become toadlets. Hey! This was our first time. What do you expect?

The substrate we used was wet paper towels. This makes it easier to clean. It should be cleaned two times a week. You will also need a secure top since they are good climbers. This is all you need in the tank. Make sure that there is always enough water to keep them from drying up. One of our tanks didn’t have enough water so they all dried up. Probably about 10 died because of that incident.

We then had to order pinhead crickets for them to eat. We did this about once a week. We ordered 500 pinhead crickets from a company called Rainbow Mealworms. This was the cheapest place we could find and we are pretty happy with their business. We ordered 500 pinheads for $8.50 plus $3.00 for shipping and handling. It did begin to get expensive and it was hard keeping the pinheads alive. Next time we think that we will order wingless fruit flies instead because they are less expensive and live longer. Rainbow Mealworms doesn’t sell wingless fruit flies so if you know a cheap yet good company that does, e-mail us. When you feed the toadlets, just drop in a bunch of pinheads at a time and they’ll start eating.

Also, the toadlets will need natural sunlight or they could get rickets or other metabolic bone diseases. Rickets is a disease that occurs if a living thing doesn’t get enough sunlight. They will become unhealthy and deformed. We’d take their tanks outside for a short time to prevent this from happening. If you do this, make sure it doesn’t get too hot in the tanks or you’ll fry your toadlets.

For some reason, one batch of eggs grew to be deformed. We don’t know why. Some had hunchbacks, some had their arms stuck to their chest, and some couldn’t bend their arms. It was really weird.

If you have a lot like we did, it would probably be a good idea to sell/give away some. The time to do this is when they are big enough to eat adult sized crickets. You could sell them to a good pet store but they usually won’t buy many. A great place to sell them would be at a reptile show. You might need a selling permit to do this. If you have a lot, the cheaper the price, the faster they’ll sell of course. This is a great place because you can answer people’s questions directly and see what other herp dealers are selling that you can add to your collection.


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