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A colony of toxic fire bellied toads has delighted keepers at Portsmouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium by laying eggs.
It’s the first time the amphibians have spawned and aquarists are hoping this will prove to be a lucky leap year.
The toads were originally part of a group of more than 50 that were born at the aquarium’s sister attraction in Hastings.
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 real member of the toad family and is really a type of frog.
Blue Reef Aquarium’s Jenna MacFarlane said: “It’s fantastic news the toads have spawned successfully for the first time and it’s a great start to our amphibian breeding season here at the aquarium.
“The spawn is developing well and we’re hopeful that a large number of the eggs are fertile so it could become something of a baby boom over the coming weeks,” she 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 even longer in some cases.
Issued by Blue Reef Aquarium. For more information contact Hannah Butt or Jenna MacFarlane on 02392 875222.

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