Bombina orientalis

Type: Amphibious, day activity

Size: 4,5-6,5 cm

Sexual dimorphism: Females have more massive bodies, but they are shorter and have less massive legs and hands.

Preferred temperature: 10-28 C normally, around 5 C at winter.

Preferred humidity: 65% during winter, 60-90% rest of the year (it is important to give them differences, as their natural habitat has very hard climate).

Night/day cycle: 10-14 hours depending on part of the year

Diet: Small and medium sized insects

Description: Bombina orientalis is very good frog for beginners, as it is quite durable and easy in keeping. These frogs are native to North Korea and China, which puts their populations in constant risk. These frogs are also called fire-bellied toads, which is not very adequate name, as toads are related closer to frogs than to fire-bellies. They are relatively cheap and available in most of petshops, which is also nice for beginners and people with lower amount of money. They can reach up to 30 years, but usual lifespan is between 10 and 20 years.

Care: As these amphibians are amphibious (yes it sounds ridiculous, I know), it is important to provide them paludarium-like tank, with shallow water (they do not dive very deep if not stressed). Water needs to be changed regularly, as these animals are toxic and can hurt not only plants in tank but also themselves. They don’t need a big tank, but they do need some space to move and swim, so minimal size of their home should be more than 50x30x30 tank for group of 2-5 frogs. Sometimes males can be agressive and of course, all frogs can mistake their offspring with food – let me be honest, they are not very clever. B. orientalis is very sociable frog and in case of animal welfare, they shouldn’t be alone.

Breeding: Firebellies are very moody when it comes to breeding. They need to be bred in big groups usually. To stimulate them, you can just put them into outside tank if you live in relatively unpolluted place with right climate (they probably won’t breed if there is less than 20 C during the day). Males can call very long. Amplexus itself takes few hours and after it, female can lay up to 100 (usually it is 30-70 however) eggs split on the bottom of tank, that you should remove from adult frogs home.

After 3-10 days herbivore tadpoles hatch. They eat algae (Chlorella spirulina for example), prefer rather cold water (16-20 C is best) and it takes them up to 3 months before metamorphosis into small froglets. During tadpole stage, they need a lots of water changes as tadpoles produce substances that can stop growth of their offspring.

Additional information: Male calls can be bit annoying, as they call all the time during season.


Frogs vs Law – how to check is your amphibian legal or not?

So, it’s me again. Had a lots of work and health issues recently, so I was silent. Today, I wanted to write two articles – this is first one and the shorter of them. This can be obvious to most people who visit this site, but I think it should still be posted here.. just in case.

  • Check is the frog (or any other animal you want to buy) listed on CITES list here
  • Check your country/state regulations – in some places some species can be illegal and you are not allowed to keep nor sell them. If your country changed exotic animal law regulations, you have usually some time to take care of new home for your pupil – you can either go to other country with it, give it to a zoo (or other place that is allowed to have such animals) or sell it to someone from abroad, if transporting it will be allowed of course.
  • In case of buying animal listed on CITES list always ask seller to show you the documents. If they don’t have it, it means either they forgot to take them or they are just selling illegal animals.



Kassina maculata

Type: Arboreal, mainly nocturnal frog

Size: 6-8,5 cm long

Sexual dimorphism: Males have visible vocal sacks on their throats.

Preferred temperature: 15-28 C

Preferred humidity: 60% during dry period (2-3 moths), 100% during rain season (2-3 months),rainchamber highly recommended), rest of the year something between (70-80% is good enough).

Night/day cycle: 12h

Diet: Medium sized insects

Description: Kassina frogs are great for beginners, as they are quite durable and they adapt quickly to new environment. They are also quite easy to “tame”, making them great pets. They look hilarious and they are easy to keep in groups, as they show no signs of aggression. In nature, these frogs are threatened “only” by standard amphibian problems – environmental degradation and catching for private collections.

Care: These frogs are good climbers, runners and swimmers. Their tank should be big and contain many plants and branches, on which they can climb. They also should be provided with freshwater bowl, that they can swim in easy and enough substrate to bury themselves in. These frogs are good eaters and prey on everything that they can fit into their mouths. As they are really sociable, it is advised to keep them in groups.

Breeding: Two things constitute a breeding success. First, what we don’t have much impact on, is how the frogs like each other. The other part, however is quite easy, as it is only achieved by duplicating natural air conditions. First, you need to start dry period and then make a rainchamber, which both takes 2-3 months. During rainchamber season you have to clean it everyday and feed your frogs time to time. Tank itself shouldn’t contain any substrate or hideouts – the only land they are supposed to have should be a big branch and the bottom should be covered in water, around 10 cm deep. Amplexus can last for few days.

Female usually lays less than hundred eggs. Tadpole metamorphosis into frog can take even 100 days. During this time, tadpoles need fresh water and some algae to eat. It is important to add something that will aerate the water (can be either aerator or water plants). It is extremely hard to keep tadpoles alive. Water temperature should be 18-20 C

There is also an ALTERNATIVE METHOD of breeding, that one of my friends told me about. In this way of keeping, frogs are constantly kept in tank with 100% humidity and around 18-20 C degrees (and only few degrees in water), that makes them breed twice a year and tadpole development seems to last even more than 250 days, but same as with other frogs, colder water is saver and slower development (and it makes the frogs much bigger).

Additional information: Make sure your frogs cannot escape, as they are good with escaping. Call is bit loud and the frogs are really talkative.

What does your frog needs and how to reduce upkeep?

Amphibians are very fragile creatures and as all living beings, they deserve a good care. Many people, especially new into frogs, don’t realize how complex keeping frogs happy can be. So, here is a list of things that your amphibian should have.

  • Main tank – it have to be enough spacious, it should prevent escape (smaller frogs will escape from aquarium type tanks, so best are the ones with sliding doors).
  • Water bowl (if it is terrestial amphibian, exception – Poison Dart Frogs, they  can drown as they cannot swim) or an island (if it is water amphibian, exception – Xenopus and Hymenochirus frogs, they usually don’t need land and feel uncomfortable when put out of water)
  • Substrate – it have to be enough soft and/or smooth, so it will cause your frogs no harm. Good land substrate is just earth, without any rocks and other sharp things. It cannot contain any chemicals, like fertilizers, soil and so on. For water tank, good choice are boulders (smooth rocks), but they can mess up with water parameters like PH and release some substances, so you have to be careful with that.
  • Hideouts – most of amphibians feel very bad if they cannot hide themselves somewhere. Be sure to place some cork, roots (but again, smooth and ones, that your frog cannot stuck in), plants (you have to bath them in potassium permanganate first, same as you should do with roots and cork), big  and smooth stones (they need to be heated to high temperatures to kill pathogens).
  • Additional tanks – theoretically, you should have two additional tanks: one for offspring and one to quarantine new frogs (or to separate sick frogs from the ones, that look healthy). In real life, one tank is nearly always enough. They should be small and kept clean, so there will be no hideouts and only small amount of substrate.
  • Lights – most of amphibians are nocturnal creatures, so why light? It is simple – even if they sleep during daylight, they still need it to be healthy. What’s more, you should set up your own micro-ecosystem inside the tank, with plants and small invertebrates. I will try to make another article only about this type of tanks.
  • UVB lights or natural sunlight – UV light is neccessary for most of vertebrates to stay healthy. It is really hard to say how long your animals should have it turned on, so best thing is (if you live in the countryside in moderate or warm climate, it is good to just place your tank outside for some time – remember it has to be placed in penumbra, so it will never be fully basked in the sunlight). Take note that UV lights does not penetrate glass, so your tank should have top made of net or plastic. Also, these lights are dangerous to look at, as they hurt eyes really badly. Frogs are not supposed to touch them, they can get burns from it!
  • Filter (aquarium and paludarium only) – really helps to keep the water healthy for frogs for longer time. You will have to change it anyway (more often, the better), but it will at least get rid of mechanical refuse.
  • Sprayer for fresh water – you can either make your own sprinkler system or humidify the tank by your own, using common sprayer. It is important not to let the humidity  get too high nor too low. It applies to temperature as well, and such is the next point..
  • Thermometer and hygrometer – they are really important to control conditions inside.
  • Heating cable or water heater – if your animals need higher temperature, than one in your frog room, it is nothing you should worry about! You can just use one of these two things to increase temperature to the level you want to reach. Just be careful – check is everything working fine before placing these in a tank with living creatures!
  • Fridge – no, I am not joking! Fridge can be crucial, while you have to make your amphibians hibernate (also axolotls love living in fridges for shorter periods of time). It also helps you with keeping food for bigger frogs, like frozen mice and rats.
  • Water tanks – you should always have some fresh water stored.
  • Tanks for fodder colonies – this is additional thing, but it really needs to be done, when your collection gets huge (and the upkeep raise). Most popular colonies are earthworms, fruitflies, crickets, rodents and small water creatures, like brineshrimp. Again, this is a thing for another article.

“Wow! That sounds so hard and so expensive!”

Nothing more wrong! Let’s see how we can reduce the costs:

  • Instead of buying huge, branded (for example, Exoterra, they can cost up to 3x more than normal tank that you can order in glaziers workshop) tanks, buy enough big (but not much bigger than your frogs need) plastic containers or ask your glazier about making cheap but solid glass tank. Some glaziers even specialize in this!
  • Again, instead of buying branded water bowls, just buy some food containers (lunchboxes) and make bowls from them. You can save up to 80% money from this trick.
  • Set your fodder colonies if your collection gets big and hard to feed.
  • Additionally, buy some shelves to save a lots of space in your frog room. It actually does have an impact on your money, as you don’t have to buy tables and other things to keep your tanks on.

How to buy a healthy frog?

So, in this post I would like to tell you how to buy a *probably healthy* frog. We all love frogs and it is hard for us when they are gone. So, to buy a frog that should live for many years, you should:

  • First of all, if you order frogs via shipment, order them only from checked people. It is always better to travel by yourself to get the frogs, but if you cannot, buy them from someone that is well known in froglovers society or a shop with good opinions.
  • Check how the animals were treated, is their tank clear, did they had a lots of space, are they in single or multi-species tank.
  • Ask seller how long did they have them, did they had any problems with them, are they CB or WC (captive breed or wild caught), how old are they and so on. WC frogs are often ill and/or infected with parasites. Huge amount of these dies in first six months.
  • Ask the seller can they show you feeding of frogs. A frog with good appetite will be saver pick than one, that don’t want to it.
  • Finally, ask seller can they put out the frogs and let you look closely at them. Don’t buy thin frogs, frogs with strange skinchanges, wounds (as it happens sometimes, and it is hellish hard to save such animal). Animal without a leg or an eye, if it is healed, is completely save to pick (you can even get them at lower price) and they are sometimes even more endurable than their healthy specimens (like my One-Eye, Kassina maculata male)
  • Additional thing you shoud look on, is how the frog acts. Is it frog that should be very active, but even poked they seem undisturbed? Or maybe this species should hide all the time and your specimen/s are sitting on the middle of everything, not caring for it. Nocturnal species active only in daylight? This is usually sign, that something is wrong.