European Fire-bellied Toad, Bombina bombina

The European fire-bellied toad is distributed from the Central Balkans to a wide range of central and eastern Asia amidst cooler and shaded areas. This species will hibernate in dens, under stones or dead wood during the winter months. If threatened, the toad will roll on its back to display the coloration of the belly as a warning that it is poisonous. This poison also protects the toad from bacteria and fungi.

The body of this species is brown, grey, or green with dark spots and a bright red or orange belly with black stripes. It has heart shaped pupils within the eyes that set high on the head for aquatic living and the skin is covered with tubercles containing black spines. The European fire-bellied toad is a small amphibian that can reach a maximum length of 2.5 inches.

During the skin shedding process, the toad will bloat the body and make a coughing sound. It will then rip off the old skin with the mouth and consume it for nutrition. The new skin below is brighter and more colorful.

The diet of the adult European fire-bellied toad consists of insects, spiders, millipedes, mollusks, and earthworms. The tadpole’s main diet is algae, bacteria, and plankton found on stones, plants, and other objects in the water.

The breeding season is from April to July or August after a heavy rain. The male will grab the female around the hip and the female will lay several clutches of eggs approximately 10 to 40 eggs each. After 2 – 5 days the tadpoles will hatch and in 5 – 12 weeks the tadpole will morph into a juvenile toad.

Maturity is reached around 1 – 2 years and the toad can have up to a ten year life span. During the afternoon hours when temperatures are mild, the European fire-bellied toad will make loud calls while floating on the waters surface. These calls are repeated 10 – 50 times a minute.

Kingdom:     Animalia
Phylum:      Chordata
Class:      Amphibia
Order:      Anura
Suborder:     Archaeobatrachia
Family:      Bombinatoridae

Image Caption: European Fire-bellied Toad, Bombina bombina. Credit: Pkuczynski/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)