Fire Bellied Toad Care Sheet

Maria Zayas, DVM
By Maria Zayas, DVM on Dec. 19, 2023
Fire belly toad

In This Article

Species Overview

Fire Bellied Toad Species Overview

Found in China, Korea, and parts of Russia, fire bellied toads are popular first-time pets for amphibian hobbyists. These toads are named for their vibrant red, orange, or yellow bellies. 

Toads are amphibians, not reptiles. However, like reptiles, amphibians are ectothermic (or “cold-blooded”) animals that rely on external heat sources to regulate their body temperature.  

Fire bellied toads are insectivorous (or insect-eating) animals that enjoy hunting live prey, including crickets, mealworms, and fly larvae. 

Fire bellied toads naturally excrete toxins from glands in their skin to discourage predators from eating them. Because of this, these toads should only be observed, rather than handled.  

Unless ingested, a fire bellied toad’s toxins are not dangerous to people. Never allow a toad’s secretions to contact your eyes, mouth, or open wounds. 

Unlike most other toads, fire bellied toads are social animals that naturally live in small communities. In their native habitats, fire bellies spend most of their time dwelling in slow-moving bodies of water. Fire bellied toads are diurnal, meaning they are most active during the day. Males make barking sounds when they’re ready to mate. 

Fire Bellied Toad Characteristics 

Difficulty of Care 


Average Lifespan 

Up to 7–15 years with proper care 

Average Adult Size 

2–3 inches long 



Minimum Habitat Size 

10–15-gallon tank for two to three toads 


Fire Bellied Toad Handling

In general, toads should only be handled when necessary. Human skin has bacteria and oils that amphibians can absorb through their skin, leading to irritation and illness. If amphibians must be handled, they should only be touched by gloved hands (wearing disposable gloves) that have been moistened with dechlorinated water. 

As a defense mechanism, fire bellied toads can lift their arms and legs, arching their backs and sometimes turning over completely to expose their brightly colored bellies. This display scares off predators. 

All toads are potential carriers of infectious diseases, including Salmonella bacteria, which is zoonotic (transmittable to humans). Pet parents should always wash their hands before and after handling their toad or its habitat’s contents. 

Fire Bellied Toad Supply Checklist

To keep a fire bellied toad happy and healthy, pet parents should have these basic supplies on hand: 

Fire Bellied Toad Habitat

Choosing the Right Enclosure 

All habitats should be well-ventilated, watertight, and secured with a screened lid to prevent the toad from escaping. Fire bellied toads should be housed in the largest semi-aquatic habitat possible to allow for normal behavior and exercise.  

A semi-aquatic habitat includes both land and water, with the land area sloping into the water so toads can easily access both sections of the tank. Ideally, about half of the tank should be land area, while the remaining space should be filled with 1- to 2-inch-deep dechlorinated water. An untippable container or bowl can be used to create a water area. 

If the habitat is large enough, small groups of fire bellied toads can be kept in the same enclosure. As a rule of thumb, two to three fire bellied toads need at least a 10- to 15-gallon aquarium. If more toads are to be kept in the habitat, be sure to provide at least four gallons of tank space for each additional toad. 

Habitat Mates 

Fire bellied toads are social animals that can be housed in groups if the habitat is large enough. Two to three toads need at least a 10- to 15-gallon enclosure. If more than three toads are kept in the habitat, provide at least 4 gallons of tank space per toad. 

When introducing toads to each other, they should be monitored to ensure they are compatible. If two toads fight, separate them. Pet parents should never keep different species of toads or other amphibians in the same habitat. 


Fire bellied toads need a thermal gradient in their enclosure so they can warm up and cool down as needed. Ideally, a fire bellied toad’s habitat should be kept around room temperature, from 75 F to 78 F. Habitat temperatures should not exceed 82 F or fall below 65 F.  Temperatures greater than 82 F can cause a toad’s skin to dry out, which is detrimental to its health.  

Pet parents must check the temperatures of their toad’s enclosure daily. At least two thermometers, one in the dry area and one in the water, should be used to keep track of the habitat’s temperatures. 

Light and Heat Sources 

Pet parents should install a low-watt incandescent bulb or under-tank heating pad to supply heat in their toad’s habitat. The wattage needed for the heat bulb will vary depending on the size of the enclosure, the distance of the bulb from the toad, and the ambient temperature of the room in which the enclosure is kept. Adjust the wattage of the bulb to maintain the recommended temperature gradient within the tank.

Note: Some light bulbs provide not only light for the tank but also heat and/or ultraviolet (UV) light. Pet parents should check the light sources they are considering to understand their function in the tank.  

Heat sources should be attached to a thermostat to keep temperatures within a safe and comfortable range. 

Hot rocks should not be used because they can get too warm and cause injury.  

Under-tank heating pads must be placed in the dry area of a fire bellied toad’s habitat and should not cover more than a third of the enclosure’s floor to create a temperature gradient in the habitat.  

If an under-tank heating pad is used, it must always be connected to a thermostat to prevent the toad from getting burned.   

White lights should not be left on continuously, as they will disrupt the toad's natural sleep cycle and negatively affect its overall health. At night, turn off lights inside the toad’s enclosure or switch to a nocturnal or infrared light to ensure the toad can rest. 

UV Light 

Toads need daily exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays so they can produce vitamin D in their skin, which in turn allows them to absorb dietary calcium and maintain bone health. Pet parents should use a low-level (2.0 or 5.0) UVB bulb to provide their toad with 10–12 hours of UVB light daily to imitate natural sunlight. This will mirror a natural day/night cycle, which promotes natural behavior. 

Replace bulbs every six months (even if they still emit light), because their potency wanes over time. A day/night timer can make it easier to maintain a consistent day and night cycle. 

Be sure to provide plenty of hiding places in the habitat so toads can rest and escape the light as needed. 


A fire bellied toad’s habitat should have a humidity level between 50% to 80%. Having a semi-aquatic habitat (with 50% of the area filled with shallow water) with live plants and sphagnum moss should help retain appropriate humidity levels in the enclosure. Use a hygrometer (humidity gauge) to measure the enclosure’s moisture level every day. 

To boost humidity levels in your toad’s habitat, you can mist the enclosure with dechlorinated water daily or as needed. 


Pet parents should use large, stacked flat rocks and a substrate that holds moisture (like coconut fiber, damp sphagnum moss, or floating cork bark) to create a land area for toads to climb on.  

When selecting a substrate for their fire bellied toad's tank, pet parents should keep a few things in mind: 

Do not use gravel or small pieces of bark that are small enough to be swallowed by a toad; they can cause life-threatening gastrointestinal tract obstruction if ingested.  

Avoid reptile carpet and other artificial turf, as they’re too rough and will damage a frog’s sensitive skin. 

Decor and Accessories 

Hiding Areas

Live or artificial plants, half logs, and commercial hideouts should be used to create hiding places in a fire bellied toad’s habitat.  

Live plants will help retain humidity in the enclosure. 

Pet parents should monitor their toad’s behavior to be sure they are not hiding all the time, as they won’t have a chance to benefit from UV exposure. 

If more than one toad is housed in the same habitat, be sure to provide each toad with their own hiding places to decrease territorial behavior.   

Climbing Décor

Pet parents should use rocks, cork bark, vines, and driftwood to create areas for their fire bellied toad to climb on. 

Fire Bellied Toad Cleaning and Maintenance

Pet parents should spot-clean their fire bellied toad’s habitat daily, removing any discarded food or droppings. Food and water dishes should also be cleaned and disinfected daily. 

If a bowl of water is buried in the habitat’s substrate, the bowl should be removed daily and scrubbed with an amphibian-safe habitat cleaner or 3% bleach solution. The bowls should then be rinsed thoroughly and refilled with dechlorinated water that’s at the appropriate temperature before being placed back in the habitat. 

Aside from daily maintenance, a fire bellied toad’s habitat needs to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected at least once a week with either an amphibian-safe habitat cleaner or a 3% bleach solution. Pet parents should always use powder-free disposable gloves moistened with dechlorinated water when handling toads to avoid harming the animal’s sensitive skin. 

To clean a fire bellied toad’s habitat, take these steps: 

  1. Using gloves moistened with dechlorinated water, move the toad to a secure habitat. Be sure to handle the toad gently to avoid harming its sensitive skin. 

  1. Remove any old substrate, décor, and accessories from the habitat.  

  1. Scrub the empty tank and any furnishings with an amphibian-safe habitat cleaner or 3% bleach solution. The bleach solution should stay on the habitat for at least 10 minutes to ensure the surfaces are properly disinfected. If using a commercial habitat cleaner, follow the manufacturer's instructions. 

  1. Rinse the habitat and accessories thoroughly with dechlorinated water, making sure to remove any trace amounts or residual smells left by the cleaning agent or bleach solution.  

  1. Allow the habitat and its contents to dry completely before adding new substrate and 1- to 2-inches of dechlorinated water at the appropriate temperature to the enclosure. 

  1. Return the toad to the clean habitat. 

Fire Bellied Toad Diet and Nutrition

Fire bellied toads should be fed a variety of gut-loaded insects and worms and be offered a calcium supplement daily. Once or twice a week, insects should also be dusted with a multivitamin supplement. Food should be placed in the dry area of the tank. 

A well-balanced and nutritious diet for a fire bellied toad consists of small gut-loaded (recently fed) insects and worms, including:

  • Crickets

  • Mealworms

  • Waxworms

  • Dubia roach nymphs

  • Small earthworms

  • Hornworms

  • Silkworms

  • Black soldier fly larvae

Feed a fire bellied toad a variety of insects rather than the same ones every day. Feeding a toad the same food every day can lead to malnutrition. 

Prey should be no larger than the width of the toad’s head. 

Before being fed, live insects must be gut-loaded with a nutrient-dense insect supplement to improve their nutritional value.

Vitamin Supplements

Before feeding a fire bellied toad, pet parents should dust their toad’s insects with a powdered vitamin supplement. Fire bellied toads need a calcium supplement with vitamin D and a multivitamin powder designed for amphibians. 

Insects should be dusted with a calcium supplement with vitamin D before each feeding session. Once or twice a week, insects should also be dusted with a multivitamin supplement. 

To dust insects quickly and efficiently, place insects in a bag or disposable plastic container along with a powdered supplement. Then, shake the bag lightly until the insects are coated evenly in powder. 

Fire Bellied Toad Feeding Guidelines 

Juvenile toads eat every other day, while adults may only need to eat once or twice a week. 

Fire bellied toads are highly intelligent and will quickly learn routines. Be sure to feed them at the same time each day.  

Pet parents should only feed their toad as many insects and worms as it can eat within 15 minutes. 

How to Gut-Load Insects 

Gut-loading diets are fortified with vitamins and minerals to help provide optimal nutrition to the reptiles that feed on them. To gut-load prey, pet parents need to place insects in a container with a gut-loading diet that the bugs can gorge on. Insects should be gut-loaded for at least 24 hours before being dusted with a calcium and vitamin supplement and fed to a toad. 

Fire Bellied Toad Grooming and Care


Fire bellied toads should only be handled when necessary. Pet parents should always use disposable, powder-free latex gloves moistened with dechlorinated water when handling their toad. Human skin has bacteria and oils that amphibians can absorb through their skin, leading to irritation and irritation and illness. 

Fire bellied toads have glands in their skin that can secrete toxins. Never let a toad’s secretions contact your eyes, mouth, or open wounds.  

A fine-mesh net can be used to move or block toads during routine habitat maintenance. 


Amphibians shed (slough) their skin regularly. Some toads will shed their skin daily, while others will shed every few weeks. Generally, healthy toads shed their skin in one complete piece.

Most toads will eat their dead skin after shedding it. 

Younger toads that are actively growing tend to shed more frequently than adults. 

A toad’s skin may turn cloudy or milky in color when the animal is ready to shed. Toads usually assume a crouching position while shedding.

Fire Bellied Toad Veterinary Care

Annual Care

Fire bellied toads should be seen by a veterinarian for a wellness exam once annually. A secure transport carrier can be purchased from major pet stores that would be an appropriate size for a frog. You will need pictures of their enclosure and all food and tank item packaging for your veterinarian to assess during the appointment. It is appropriate to transport multiple toads together if needed or convenient.

Signs of a Healthy Fire Bellied Toad

  • Clean, clear eyes

  • Intact skin with many bumps but no ulcerations or growths

  • Pink, clean oral cavity

  • Clear nostrils

  • Round belly

  • Ready use of all four limbs

  • Clean vent

  • Good appetite

  • Bright and alert

When to Call a Vet

  • Eye discharge or a swollen or protruding eye

  • Lesion on skin

  • Red discoloration of limbs and bottom aspect of frog

  • Discharge or blood from mouth

  • Oral lesions

  • Bent or broken toes or other limb bones

  • Stuck pieces of shed, especially around toes

  • Sunken or swollen belly

  • Dry skin

  • Lethargy

  • Lack of appetite

  • Nasal discharge

  • Breathing difficulties

Common Illnesses in the Fire Bellied Toad

  • Red leg

  • Dysecdysis (stuck shed, particularly around toes)

  • Immunosuppression related to improper humidity or temperature of enclosure

  • Skin infections

  • Parasites

  • Trauma

  • Burns

  • Respiratory infections

  • Gastrointestinal obstructions

  • Metabolic bone disease

Fire Bellied Toad FAQs

Can fire bellied toads be pets?

Fire bellied toads make a great pet choice for those interested in keeping amphibians. Multiple toads can be kept together, they aren’t nocturnal, they have social personalities, and they have gorgeous and unique coloring.

Are fire bellied toads aggressive?

Fire bellied toads are usually docile and social. Sometimes there can be issues with aggression between males or when there are great size differences between some of the toads sharing an aquarium, but this isn’t common.

Can you handle fire bellied toads?

Fire bellied toads are known for being able to secrete a toxin through their skin when stressed. The good news is that this toxin only affects people who are hypersensitive to it. You should always wash your hands immediately after handling toads, but people who react to handling them may benefit from using additional protective measures for comfort, as some discomfort or rash formation on the hands is typically the worst that occurs. Also be very careful not to touch your face after handling toads, and minimize handling in general.

Do fire bellied toads need a friend?

Fire bellied toads do usually do best in groups of two to four, sometimes even more. This is a social toad species that will do best with at least one friend.

How many fire bellied toads can live in a 10-gallon tank?

The minimum recommended tank size for fire-bellied toads is a 10-gallon tank, which can house two to three toads.

What do fire bellied toads need in their habitat?

Fire bellied toads need water in their habitat but are poor swimmers, so you’ll want to devote only about 25% of the tank to shallow water only. Larger substrate like smooth rocks or moss work best for these frogs, as pebbles or gravel can be swallowed and cause GI obstructions. Rocks and driftwood should also be provided for climbing. Be prepared to maintain their humidity, temperature, and lighting needs and be sure the habitat is at least the size of a 10-gallon aquarium tank.

Featured Image: marima-design/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Maria Zayas, DVM


Maria Zayas, DVM


Dr. Zayas has practiced small animal and exotic medicine all over the United States and currently lives in Colorado with her 3 dogs, 1 cat,...

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