The European fire-bellied toad is characterised by its black and red markings on the belly and its melancholic call. Both characteristics are similar to the yellow-bellied toad (Bombina variegata). The latter is only found in the uplands, while the fire- bellied toad is a lowland species.
The fire-bellied toad prefers shallow ponds for breeding, which quickly warm up and have plenty of submerged
aquatic vegetation. Often these are ponds that dry up in late summer and are consequently free of fish. Fire-bellied toads stay in ponds after breeding, often in ponds rich in nutrients having a good food supply. They overwinter on land.
In Lower Saxony, the fire-bellied toad is currently only present in the Elbe Floodplain. In previous decades its distribution area stretched much further to the West. There are records from the River Aller, Oker and Leine. Historic records show presence away from the floodplains. For example in the basin of Uelzen and Bevensen, where the species was last recorded at the start of the first decade of the 21st century. The situation in the Dromling is unclear. There are a few unconfirmed records from recent years. A reintroduction project at the River Aller near Celle started a few years ago. An important aim of the LIFE floodplain amphibian project is to restore the former distribution area of the fire-bellied toad in Lower Saxony.
Fire-bellied toad in Germany (German webpage only)
Photo credit: Fire-bellied toad in Lower Saxony by Florian Bibelriether