The Fire-bellied Toads is a group comprising eight species of small toads (typically no longer than 1.6 inches) belonging to the genus Bombina. Common variants of the name 'Fire-bellied toad' include 'firebelly toad' and 'firebellied toad'.
"Fire-bellied" is derived from the brightly coloured red- or yellow-and-black patterns on the toads' ventral regions, which act as aposematic coloration, a warning to predators of the toads' reputedly foul taste. The other parts of the toads' skins are green or dark brown. When confronted with a potential predator, these toads commonly engage in an Unkenreflex, "Unken" being the plural form of "Unke", German for firebellied toad. In the Unkenreflex, the toad arches its back, raising its front and back legs to display the aposematic coloration of its ventral side.
The female of the species typically lays 80–300 eggs that can be found hanging off plant stems. The offspring develop in pools or puddles. Their metamorphosis is complete within a few weeks, peaking in July–August. The toadlets attain a length of 12–15 mm. The eggs, laid in August, metamorphose only after the winter, with the toadlets attaining a length of 3–5 cm. These toadlets still have a white belly.
Tadpoles eat mainly algae and higher plants. The toadlets and the toads consume insects, such as flies and beetles, but also invertebrates such as annelid worms, and terrestrial arthropods.
Fire-bellied toads are active both day and night.
The mating call of the male sounds like a dog's bark and will be very light to hear.
Several species in the genus Bombina, particularly B. orientalis, B bombina, and B. variegata, are commonly kept as exotic pets and are readily available in many pet stores. In captivity, they are easily maintained in vivariums and when provided with proper food and environmental conditions, often prove robust, flamboyant and long lived amphibians. Captive fire-bellied toads usually live to be around 12 years old, and there are several cases reported by owners of fire-bellied toads attaining ages up to 30 years.
It is risky to house any type of these toads with other species, as they secrete toxins from glands behind the head. In some individuals there is a spot of color, such as green or brown, where these glands are located. For this reason, it is extremely important that any water in the habitat is changed every few days or is filtered as the toxin will build up in the water and can harm the toads. Many species do not seem to be bothered by the toxins if the primary water source is filtered properly.
In captivity they will eat a wide variety of food, including crickets, moths, minnows, blood worms and pinkie mice, although some frogs cannot handle certain foods, due to their size. Smaller frogs like smaller food, and the same goes for bigger frogs.
In vivariums (Habitations with both terra and water) each toad usually requires at least 3 gallons, however 3 toads can fit into an 8 gallon vivarium with proper treatment.
They can sometimes act very aggressively against each other, particularly males.