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LEAP YEAR PUTS SPRING INTO TOXIC TOADS

May 24, 2016

Fire bellied toad (1300x973)

A colony of toxic fire bellied toads has delighted keepers at Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium by laying eggs.

It’s the first time the amphibians have spawned at the Towan Promenade attraction and aquarists are hoping 2016 will prove to be a lucky leap year.

The toads arrived at the aquarium back in March last year as part of a new amphibian display.

Originally from China, Russia and Korea, oriental fire-bellied toads get their name from their distinctive underbellies which they use as a warning to would-be predators that they taste foul.

When a fire-bellied toad senses danger it arches its body, flashing the brilliantly coloured warning spots on its belly. Should provocation continue the toad secretes a milky toxin from hundreds of tiny pores located on its stomach.

Although it is typically referred to as a toad, the fire-bellied toad is actually not a true member of the toad family and is really a type of frog.

Blue Reef Aquarium’s Steve Matchett said: “The toads arrived here more than a year ago but this is the first time they have spawned successfully.

“The spawn is developing well and we’re cautiously optimistic that many of the eggs are fertile,” he added.

Fire-bellied toads usually lay eggs in April and May with metamorphosis peaking in July and August.

Females lay anywhere from 40 to 100 eggs in a large cluster, usually around submerged plants, near the water’s edge.

Tadpoles hatch from the eggs in 3–10 days; depending on the temperature of the water. The larvae begin to develop legs in six to eight weeks, and are fully metamorphosed and begin venturing on land in 12–14 weeks.

In captivity they can live for up to 15 years and there are reports of individuals living for 30 years or more.

Issued by Blue Reef Aquarium. For more information contact Steve Matchett on 01637 878134.