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 Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad (1999)
(Bombina orientalis)

Acrylic on illustration board
7" x 7"
Private collection

 Family Discoglossidae -- the painted frogs

About a dozen species (one of them probably extinct) make up this family of rather primitive frogs. The genus Barbourula occurs on Borneo and the Philippines. Otherwise, the group's main distribution is centered around the Mediterranean. Included here are the interesting midwife toads (Alytes spp.), the males of which wrap strings of eggs about their hind legs and hide underground until they begin to hatch, at which point they are carried to water. A new species, A. muletensis, was discovered on Majorca in 1977. Among the unusual features of the Discoglossids are the presense of ribs in the adults and the firmly anchored disc-shaped tongue for which the family was named.

  Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad (Bombina orientalis)

The oriental fire-bellied toad is native to the mountain streams of Korea, northeast China and southeast Russia. Its hardy constitution and handsome colors have made it a staple in the pet trade. Largely aquatic, it never strays far from water and is commonly seen basking just beneath the surface of quiet pools. When confronted by danger on land, its response is to bend backwards and hold up its limbs, displaying as much of its brilliant underside as possible. This behavior, which is shared with a number of unrelated frogs, is known as the "unkenreflex", from the German word for the fire-bellied toad. The red of its belly comes from xanthin derived from small aquatic crustaceans in its diet. When raised on crickets, captive firebellies develop yellow venters. The eggs of this species are deposited in a nest dug underneath a submerged stone.