March 31, 2015
A colony of fire-bellied toads has taken up residence at Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium.
The toads are part of a new display area featuring a variety of exotic reptiles and amphibians from around the world.
As they mature it is hoped the amphibians will form their own satellite captive breeding programme at Blue Reef.
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.
Normally perfectly camouflaged to their surroundings, the toads have a secret weapon if they feel threatened.
If a fire-bellied toad senses danger it flips on to its back, playing dead and flashing the brilliantly coloured warning spots on its belly. Should provocation continue the toad secretes a milky toxin from hundreds of tiny pores on its stomach.
Blue Reef’s Steve Matchett said: “Our toads are pretty much full-grown adults now and have already developed their highly distinctive colour and markings”.
“They’re extremely striking looking creatures and, once they reach sexual maturity at about eight months, the males also start calling to the females with a high pitched squeak which some people have likened to a dog barking!” he added.
They are highly aquatic and usually found in slow-moving streams and ponds. In the wild the toads hibernate from late September to May, sheltering in rotting logs, leaf piles, and occasionally at the bottom of streams.
Fire-bellied toads usually lay eggs in April and May with metamorphosis peaking in July and August.
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 and to arrange photos or interview opportunities please contact Lucy Hackett or Steve Matchett on 01637 878134.