Setting Up A Vivarium For Fire Bellied Toads

Fire bellied toads (Bombina bombina) are one of the best amphibians to keep in captivity. These toads are typically very attractively colored having a base color of brown or black with bright orange markings on the underside as the name suggests together with, in some specimens, fine green marbling on the back.

As well as being colorful these fantastic toads attain only a small size with an adult body length of around 5cm and they are typically quite friendly towards each other meaning that one can easily accommodate two or more of these toads in the home making for interesting social interactions. Indeed these toads will even breed readily in captivity with the right stimulus enabling you to observe the entire lifecycle of these amazing amphibians in the comfort of your own home.

Fire bellied toads are very hardy exotic pets and require very little in the way of special care so they are suitable for beginner herp keepers as well as those with more experience under their belts and indeed the fire bellied toad can be a perfect introduction to keeping amphibians in captivity.

Housing Fire Bellied Toads

Due to their reasonable size fire bellied toads do not require too much space. They like to spend at least some time each day submerged in water so an ideal vivarium is one that has both an area of dry land and a large body of water.

There are a number of ways to accomplish this such though two of the most popular are either to use an aquarium and create a small divider which is glued in place with aquarium sealant. One side of the divider can then hold fresh water while the other can be an area of dry land.

The other option is to insert a large container – such as a cat little tray – into an otherwise dry cage so that the toads can access the water at will.

The second option typically makes cleaning far easier though the first method can look far more attractive and naturalistic in the terrarium so the choice really is yours. If you choose to use the “divider” option you will likely have a larger body of water that can be harder to clean and so the use of a small internal canister filter can help to keep the water clean and fresh.

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Because of the need for a body of water these toads are typically better suited to a water-tight aquarium with a purpose-built reptile-safe aquarium lid rather than to wooden vivaria and the like. This means that if and when spillage occurs it will remain safely in the confines of the cage rather than damaging the vivarium or leaking out into your home.

An aquarium of 60cm long will be suitable for two or three adult individuals though as always the more space you can give the better.

Tank Decorations For Fire Bellied Toads

Once you have the tank in place it is time to deck it out so it is ready for your new pets. Being amphibians fire bellied toads can suffer from dehydration if you are not careful so while the article mentioned “dry land” earlier the “dry” area should still be reasonably moist for the sake of your pets. Pesticide-free compost, bark chippings or coir fibres can all the used for the “dry” area though care should be taken to regularly spray it with tepid, dechlorinated water to keep it reasonably damp.

The water should be treated for chlorine using a reptile-safe water treatment solution as available from ost good reptile stores.

A water bowl can be inserted but generally is unnecessary as the toads will drink from their water pool if it is kept reasonably clean.

Some authorities claim that fire bellied toads should be given artificial UV light though there seems to be no general agreement on the subject yet. If in doubt consider adding a lighting unit but ensure there are plenty of hiding places where your toads can escape from the bright light. Piles of damp moss, upturned cocnut shells and so on can all be used for this purpose and to give your pets a degree of privacy to prevent stress.

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The benefit of including artificial lighting is that you can include a number of live plants to help keep up the humidity, provide hiding places and to make your vivarium look more naturalistic.

These are not tropical toads and so a further benefit of keeping these amphibians is that no supplementary heating is required in the average centrally-heated home. If your house is warm enough for you it will be fine for your toads.

So there you have it – an aquarium of 60cm or so in length with an area of water and an area of damp substrate with plants or rocks placed between the two to enable your toads to easily move between the two environments with plenty of hiding places and your toads should live a long and healthy life in your care.


Richard Adams

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