Bombina orientalis

Geographic Range

Bombina orientalis is found in northeast China (the provinces of Heilongjiang, Hebei, Shandong, Anhui, and Lianoning). These toads can also be found in Korea, Thailand, and southern Japan (the islands of Kiushiu and Tsushima). Bombina orientalis also occurs in the Primorye and Khabarovsk regions of Russia. (Kuzmin and Vredenburg, 2003)


Oriental fire-bellied toads occupy a variety of different habitats. They live at high elevations in spruce, pine or deciduous forests, river valleys, swampy bushlands, and open meadows. Bombina orientalis lives in or around various water types, including stagnant and running water in lakes, ponds, swamps, streams, springs, even puddles and ditches. Typically, this species stays relatively close to water, but in late summer they occur up to a few hundred meters from water. (Kuzmin and Vredenburg, 2003)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • lakes and ponds
  • rivers and streams
  • temporary pools

Physical Description

Oriental fire-bellied toads are dark-colored dorsally, ranging from brownish-gray to bright green. When the dorsal surface is colored more vividly, dark spots are typically also present. The ventral surface is brightly colored, usually with dark spots over brilliant red-orange or yellow reticulated patterns (hence the name "fire-bellied"). The pupils are triangular. The skin is covered in tubercles (warts), except on the ventral surface, where tubercles are only present near the cloaca (the terminal part of the gut). Of the three species in the genus Bombina, Oriental fire-bellied toads have the most pronounced tubercles. Tubercles on the ventral side of the animal are elevated and acute, sometimes feeling like sharp needles. These toads have no tympanic membrane. (Hickman, et al., 2003; Kuzmin and Vredenburg, 2003; Miller, 2002)

Females are generally larger than males. During the breeding season, males develop nuptial pads on their first and second fingers, have more tuberculate skin, and have thicker forearms. (Kuzmin and Vredenburg, 2003; Miller, 2002)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • sexes shaped differently
  • Range length
    3.5 to 8 cm
    1.38 to 3.15 in


Oriental fire-bellied toad females lay eggs in clusters of 3 to 45. These clusters are deposited every 7 to 10 days. with a total clutch size of 38 to 257 eggs. Typically, eggs are laid on submerged plants near water's edge. Eggs hatch after a period of 3 to 10 days. In the first week following hatching, the tiny larvae absorb their yolk sacs. Oriental fire-bellied toad tadpoles have a gill slit on the ventral surface that projects outward, this gill slit is called a spiracle. After about 6 to 8 weeks, the hind legs and the lungs start to take shape. After 10 to 14 weeks, tadpoles reach about 3.5 cm in length and begin to metamorphose. After the 12th week, they start to emerge from the water and lose their tails. The transformation process into an adult toad takes approximately 5 months. (Kuzmin and Vredenburg, 2003; Miller, 2002)


Males court females by continuously calling while floating in shallow water. The mating call sounds like a bark and lasts about twelve seconds. Males sit and croak until a female approaches for mating. (Miller, 2002)

In the wild, there are often more males than females at breeding sites, sometimes as many as ten males for every female. Waiting males jumps onto the back of passing toads, hoping it to be a female. Inevitably, males sometimes jump on other males. The target male lets out a loud croak to indicate a mistake has been made. When a female is encountered, the male and female enters amplexus. Females swim around with the male hanging on, fertilizing the eggs as she lays them. (Miller, 2002)

After fertilization, the jelly layers of the eggs absorb water and swell. The eggs remain in this "jelly" state until hatching. Breeding begins with warming weather in the spring and continues throughout the summer. Breeding occurs from May through mid-August eggs hatch after 3 to 10 days. Most hatching occurs in June and July. Females are capable of laying more than one clutch per season. They deposit from 38 to 257 eggs in portions from 3 to 45 eggs every 7 to 10 days. In captivity, the breeding season begins after a cooling winter period with simulated rain. (Hickman, et al., 2003)

  • Breeding interval
    Breeding may occur multiple times during a year.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding occurs throughout the warm season, from May to mid-August.
  • Range number of offspring
    38 to 257
  • Range time to hatching
    3 to 10 days

Bombina orientalis larvae hatch 3 to 10 days after egg laying. There is no direct parental care. The young are left to fend for themselves following hatching. Indirectly, females can influence development of their young by varying the environment the eggs are placed in and energy investment in the eggs. Egg size and water temperature are two such factors. In cold water, larvae that developed from larger eggs had greater fitness than those that developed from small eggs. In warmer environments, larvae that developed from small eggs had greater fitness than those that developed from large eggs. (Kaplan, 1992)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female


Bombina orientalis can live up to a maximum of 30 years in captivity. Maximum longevity in the wild is estimated at 20 years. ("The Oriental Fire-bellied Toad", 2004)


Oriental fire-bellied toads hibernate from late September to late April or May. They hibernate in groups of one to six individuals, usually on land inside rotten trees, stone piles, and leaves, but sometimes in streams. They are typically active during the day. (Kuzmin and Vredenburg, 2003)

Home Range

In captivity, Oriental fire-bellied toads are aggressive and territorial. Home ranges in the wild are not known. Population densities in the wild can reach 8 individuals per square meter in the central part of their range. (Kuzmin and Vredenburg, 2003; Miller, 2002)

Communication and Perception

Vocalizations are the primary form of communication and are mostly used during the mating season. Oriental fire-bellied toads have a soft, musical call that sounds like a tapering "oop...oop...ooop." Males croak to attract females, and to warn other males of mistaken identity. (Miller, 2002)

Like most frogs and toads, Oriental fire-bellied toads use vision primarily to detect prey. (Miller, 2002)

Food Habits

Oriental fire-bellied toads, like most frogs and toads, primarily perceive prey through movement. They wait patiently for their prey to draw near and then pounce quickly to capture the prey. As larvae, Oriental fire-bellied toads consume algae, fungi, detritus, plants, and protozoans. As adults, their diet consists of terrestrial invertebrates, including worms, molluscs, and insects. (Kuzmin and Vredenburg, 2003)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • mollusks
  • terrestrial worms
  • Plant Foods
  • algae


The main predators of Bombina orientalis are birds and larger aquatic animals. Oriental fire-bellied toads are poisonous to eat and, when threatened, they exhibit a posture known as unkenreflex. They flip on their backs and arch their spines. The brilliant warning spots on their underside warn potential predators of their toxicity and may deter predation. Their dull-colored back provides perfect camouflage to blend in with the muddy waters they inhabit. ("The Oriental Fire-bellied Toad", 2004; Kuzmin and Vredenburg, 2003)

  • Known Predators
    • larger, predatory birds (Aves)

Ecosystem Roles

Oriental fire-bellied toads prey upon terrestrial invertebrates and are also preyed on by bird species and larger aquatic animals.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Bombina orientalis is a popular toad species in the exotic pet trade. They are hardy animals with long lifespans. (Miller, 2002)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Bombina orientalis is a poisonous species, although are popular as pets. Their skin toxin is not poisonous to human skin, but is harmful when rubbed in the eyes, mouth, or on broken skin. Hands should be washed thoroughly before and after handling. Handling oriental fire-bellied toads can result in itchy eyes and a runny nose. (Miller, 2002)

Conservation Status

Bombina orientalis is not currently considered a threatened species. (China Species Information System, 2003; Kuzmin and Vredenburg, 2003; Miller, 2002)

Other Comments

In cases of extreme danger, Bombina orientalis can excrete so much poison that its entire body becomes covered in a soapy foam. ()


Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Todd Szcodronski (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


having coloration that serves a protective function for the animal, usually used to refer to animals with colors that warn predators of their toxicity. For example: animals with bright red or yellow coloration are often toxic or distasteful.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


a wetland area rich in accumulated plant material and with acidic soils surrounding a body of open water. Bogs have a flora dominated by sedges, heaths, and sphagnum.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


to jointly display, usually with sounds, at the same time as two or more other individuals of the same or different species


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.


particles of organic material from dead and decomposing organisms. Detritus is the result of the activity of decomposers (organisms that decompose organic material).

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

external fertilization

fertilization takes place outside the female's body


union of egg and spermatozoan


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


mainly lives in water that is not salty.


having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.


the state that some animals enter during winter in which normal physiological processes are significantly reduced, thus lowering the animal's energy requirements. The act or condition of passing winter in a torpid or resting state, typically involving the abandonment of homoiothermy in mammals.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.


eats mollusks, members of Phylum Mollusca


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


specialized for swimming

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.


an animal which has a substance capable of killing, injuring, or impairing other animals through its chemical action (for example, the skin of poison dart frogs).


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.


Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).


specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


uses sight to communicate


Hogle Zoo. 2004. "The Oriental Fire-bellied Toad" (On-line). Accessed August 30, 2004 at

China Species Information System, 2003. "China Species Information System" (On-line ). Accessed 03/19/03 at

Hickman, c., L. Roberts, A. Larson. 2003. Animal Diversity. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Kaplan, R. 1992. Greater Maternal Investment Can Decrease Offspring Survival In The Frog Bombina Orientalis. Ecology, 73/1: 280-288. Accessed March 18, 2003 at

Kuzmin, S., V. Vredenburg. 2003. "Bombina orientalis" (On-line). Amphibiaweb. Accessed March 16, 2003 at

Miller, J. 2002. "Oriental Fire Bellied Toad" (On-line). Living Underworld. Accessed March 14, 2003 at

Staniszewski, M. 1998. "Marc Staniszewski's Amphibian Information Center" (On-line ). The Fire Bellied Toad (Bombina species). Accessed 03/16/03 at