© 2019 Andreas Nöllert & Christel Nöllert (1 of 92)
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Republic of, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine
The toad inhabits zones of steppe, forest steppe, broad-leaved and mixed forests consisting of different species of trees. In the forest steppe and steppe zones, B. bombina inhabits bushlands, forests and wetlands in floodplains, covered with dense vegetation. It inhabits also open landscapes, using drainage channels as pathways for dispersal. At the southeastern margin of its range, the species lives in permanent freshwater bodies in river valleys surrounded by an arid saline landscape. It is primarily an aquatic animal living in shallow stagnant lakes, ponds, swamps, peatbogs, ditches, flooded rice fields and quarries. Sometimes the toad inhabits semi-flowing waters: springs, irrigation channels, rivers and stream pools. In some areas, however, it seems to live almost entirely in stagnant water bodies. As a rule, the water must be clear. In the Carpathian region, B. bombina lives in wetlands with clearer water than the congeneric B. variegata. However, near the southern margin of the range, in Southeastern Ukraine and Krasnodar Region of Russia, the toad often occurs in chemically polluted waters: settling and sedimentation reservoirs, rice fields, polluted ponds in settlements and cities etc.
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The toads prefer relatively warm conditions: they are active at +10 - +30oC, usually +18 - +20oC. Active individuals are found in the daytime, but the maximum calling by males occurs at dusk, whereas during windy or cold weather toad activity decreases. Fire-Bellied Toads stay in the water or near the shore; terrestrial migrations occur mainly at high air humidity, as a rule at night.
Hibernation occurs from the end of September or October (sometimes the beginning of November) to late March or April. The toad hibernates in the mud on the bottom of water bodies or on land. The breeding season extends from May to the end of summer. During this time, male vocalizes floating on the water surface, with body flattened. Sometimes he is able to call from under the water. Amplexus is pelvic. The clutch contains 80-300 eggs, sometimes more, deposited in portions. Embryonic and larval development takes 2-2.5 months. Metamorphosis extends from the second half of June to the end of September. As a rule, it peaks in July-August. Recently metamorphosed toadlets stay in the water and near the shore. Sexual maturity is attained in the 2nd-4th year of life, longevity in nature reaches at least 12 years.
Tadpoles consume mainly algae and higher plants, lower animals frequently are eaten. Newly metamorphosed toadlets prey mainly on insects (Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, Diptera), as do adults, which consume mainly insects. More than half of their diet of adults may consist of aquatic invertebrates, but terrestrial animals are also numerous. Variation in the proportion of aquatic prey in different samples reflects the extent of terrestrialism the toad in different landscapes and seasons. During the breeding season, feeding is not stopped.
When faced with a potential predator, B. bombina exhibits a defensive posture called the unkenreflex. It turns over and curves its bright belly upward, covering the eyes with its palms. Otherwise, it may not turn over but instead curve its body downward, lift up the head, and curve the extremities showing the bright spots on its flanks and on the ventral surface of the extremities. Despite the venomous skin secretions in the Fire-Bellied Toad, many vertebrates regularly consume its adults and juveniles. For example, up to 25% of the diet of Night herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) in Ukraine may consist of Fire-bellied toads.
Trends and Threats
Relation to Humans
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Bannikov, A. G., Darevsky, I. S. and Rustamov, A. K. (1971). Zemnovodnye i Presmykayushchienya SSSR [Amphibians and Reptiles of the USSR]. Izdatelistvo Misl, Moscow.
Bannikov, A. G., Darevsky, I. S., Ishchenko, V. G., Rustamov, A. K., and Szczerbak, N. N. (1977). Opredelitel Zemnovodnykh i Presmykayushchikhsya Fauny SSSR [Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of the USSR Fauna]. Prosveshchenie, Moscow.
Basoglu, M. and Ozeti, N. (1973). Turkiye Amphibileri. Ege Univ, Bornova-Izmir.
Gasc, J. P. , Cabela, A., Crnobrnja-Isailovic, J., Dolmen, D., Grossenbacher,K., Haffner, P., Lescure, J., Martens, H., Martinez Rica, J. P.,Maurin, H., Oliveira, M. E., Sofianidou, T. S., Vaith, M., and Zuiderwijk, A. (1997). Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Europe. Societas Europaea Herpetologica and Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris.
Krone, A. and Kuhnel, K.-D. (1996). Die Rotbauchunke (Bombina bombina): Okologie und Bestandssituation. Rana. Rangsdorf, Sonderheit.
Kuzmin, S. L. (1995). Die Amphibien Russlands und angrenzender Gebiete. Westarp Wissenschaften, Magdeburg.
Kuzmin, S. L. (1999). The Amphibians of the Former Soviet Union. Pensoft, Sofia-Moscow.
Nikolsky, A. M (1936). Fauna of Russia and Adjacent Countries: Amphibians (English translation of Nikolsky, 1918, Faune de la Russie et des Pays limitrophes. Amphibiens. Académie Russe des Sciences, Petrograd, USSR). Israel Program for Scientific Translations, Jerusalem.
Nikolsky, A. M. (1906). Herpetologia Rossica. Mémoires de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences de St.-Pétersbourg, Série 8, Phys.-Math, Vol. 17, Sofia, Moscow.
Nöllert, A. and Nöllert, C. (1992). Die Amphibien Europas. Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH and Company, Stuttgart.
Szczerbak, N. N. and Szczerban, M. I. (1980). Zemnovodnye i Presmykayushchiesya Ukrainskikh Karpat [Amphibians and Reptiles of Ukrainian Carpathians]. Naukova Dumka, Kiev.
Terent'ev, P. V. and Chernov, S. A (1965). Key to Amphibians and Reptiles [of the USSR]. Israel Program for Scientific Translations, Jerusalem.
Written by Sergius L. Kuzmin (ipe51 AT yahoo.com), Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow
First submitted 1999-09-29
Edited by Vance Vredenburg, updated by Michelle Koo (2019-12-08)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2019 Bombina bombina: Fire-Bellied Toad <http://amphibiaweb.org/species/2041> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Feb 25, 2021.
Feedback or comments about this page.
Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2021. <http://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 25 Feb 2021.
AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.