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Cuban tree frog

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Cuban tree frog
Cuban tree frog on tree.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Osteopilus septentrionalis

The Cuban Tree Frog is a species of tree frog known by the scientific name Osteopilus septentrionalis. They are native to Cuba as their name implies and perhaps best known as an invasive species for its destructive behavior on native populations in Florida. Surprisingly they eat Florida's native frogs, and due to a lack of natural predators, the Cuban Tree Frog population has elevated to uncontrollable levels.

Though control of the species seems difficult, there are several pest control options which can be relatively easy to achieve. The people of Florida have been notified of the growing threat. If seen, they are asked to call in the sighting or humanely dispose of them. This well known invasive species is not particularly threatening to humans, though it is threatening to the ecosystem of Florida.

Body Design

Cuban treefrog showing coloration and enlarged toe pads.

The Cuban treefrog is not easily distinguishable by color, but instead by size. The color of the body varies from white to shaded grey, to green or brown, with the ability to change color to match their surroundings. Some may have markings, such as dark stripes or blotches, which disappear as they change color. All Cuban treefrogs have warty skin, and on many the armpits and groin may have a splash of yellow coloration. Only the young tree frogs are truly identifiable by color. The juvenile body is olive-brown, they have light stripes on the side of their bodies, red-toned eyes, and blue bones that can be seen through the underside of their back legs.[2]

The Cuban treefrog is known for its size in the U.S., holding record for being the largest. They can range in size from 1.5 to 5.5 inches in length, and their toe pad are enlarged.[3] Cuban treefrogs have one distinctive developmental attribute; its scalp is fused with its skull.[4]

Life Cycle

A cuban tree frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) in its natural juvenile stage of life.
Cuban tree frogs are pretty flexible when it comes to mating season. They can mate anytime during the year. However, the wet months (May to October) are most common. During a mating session, the male grows black pads over their thumbs.[5] They attract females by calling them.[6] They call with a certain croak they make. [7] The call occurs outside of the water, but the actual mating occurs inside of the water.[6]
The female can lay an average of 3900 eggs and can basically be anywhere. Once the eggs are laid, they take up to 30 hours to hatch. The tadpoles vary in different colors and eat mostly algae. [5] While a tadpole, they have wide caudal fins and two rows of teeth. [7] They take up to 30 days to become a fully grown Cuban Tree Frog. [5] Although fully grown, they reach their full reproductive abilities in one year. .[6] A Cuban Tree Frog’s life span is 5-10 years. [5]


this is the area where the cuban tree frog lives.

Cuban tree frogs originated in Cuba and the island near Cuba. They then hitched a ride on boats to Florida. From Florida they have been spreading in the United States. They spend most of their time in trees, coming down only to hunt prey. [8] They are great tree climbers. They climb high in tall trees where they spend most of the day sleeping. These frogs can live in pine forests, hardwood hammocks, swamps, and sometimes even in small trees or shrubs. Cuban tree frogs also have been discovered in some dry soil a few inches deep into the ground. They are most lively at night.[9]They usually live in high humid and moist areas. They usually need temperatures in the seventy to eighty-five degrees.[10]

Cuban tree frogs are insectivores like most frogs. They eat thing like crickets, houseflies, grass hoppers, small earth worms, silk worms, etc. They also are known for hunting their prey at night. [11]These frogs are also known to be cannibalistic. They can eat other frogs that are smaller than them. Including Florida’s native tree frogs, this is why they are a big problem in Florida. Cuban tree frogs may even eat lizards and small snakes. Luckily, these tree frogs do have predators. Their predators include; owls, crows, wading birds, Black racers and many other types of snakes. [12]

Invasive Behavior

Cuban Treefrog range map

The Cuban Treefrog was accidently brought to Florida from Cuba on ships in the 1920s. Because they are harmful to the ecosystem, they are considered invasive. Their tadpoles compete with the tadpoles of other frog species for necessary resources such as food. Cuban Treefrogs also consume several different species of native frogs and can even eat lizards and small snakes! In addition to this, these frogs are an annoyance to humans. They are often found in homes, in places such as toilets, sinks, and lights. [13]

Cuban Treefrogs are mostly invasive to Florida, but have spread as far north as southeastern Georgia, causing problems for the species of frogs native to these areas.It is likely that the noise made by Cuban Treefrogs causes other species of frogs to significantly increase the frequency of their calls, making them more obvious to predators. [14] We know for sure that wherever there are Cuban Treefrogs, there is a decrease in the population of other species of frogs in that area. In fact, these frogs have become such a problem that it is illegal to release them into Florida's ecosystem. The native frog species simply cannot compete with the larger Cuban Treefrogs for food and space, and survival. Another advantage Cuban Treefrogs have is that they are extremely adaptable to natural storms and hurricanes.[15]

Cuban Tree frogs cause two major problems. The first problem the cause is they are eating Florida’s native frogs, lizards, and many other invertebrates. This is causing the other native frogs to decrease. The other problem with these frogs is they are causing a lot of problems for people in their homes. They will do things like clog drains or steal nests from birds. They may also lay eggs in pools or back yard ponds. They have also been known to cause power disruptions by climbing into transformers, electrical switches and causing some short circuits. The main problem with these frogs is when they cause harm to humans. If a person would comes to close to the Cuban tree frogs’ skin their eyes and nose may feel a burning sensation.[16]

Cuban tree frog is native in Cuba but has found its way into Florida invasively. The breed has rapidly populated towards the north as well. Studies show that the population rate of Cuban tree frogs drops by climate, mostly colder temperatures. However, it isn’t long before the population rate jumps back up. In Florida, the frogs impact the community in many ways, ranging from ecologically to being just plain annoying. They can be found in, around, or under houses, on walls, in sinks, and in toilets. They affect communities in harmful and sometimes dangerous ways.[12]

Pest Control

Cuban Tree Frogs are highly invasive mainly in Florida. To aid in this behavior, scientists recommend capturing and then reporting information to them. There are many ways on how to capture these frogs. You can either grab them by hand (with gloves). Also, you can attract them into pipes, putting a plastic bag into one end and sticking something into the other end to seal them in the bag. From there, you can dispose of them, making sure to not capture Florida's native tree frogs. Another option is to put the frog into a bag after rubbing benzocaine ointment on their back to cause them to go unconscious. After, put the bag in the freezer overnight and throw it away. You can report information, such as the location where you found the frog, street address, and a digital photograph, to Dr. Steve A. Johnson’s e-mail in the University of Florida.[12]

There are several ways to rid your property of Cuban tree frogs. Some products that can accomplish this are insect control sprays such as cypermethrin and Cuban tree frog repellent dust. Cypermethrin can be sprayed wherever the frogs are living. It works by killing insects so that there is less food for the frogs. A spray called Pest Rid can be used to drive the frogs away because it produces a smell they dislike. Repellent dust works by drying out the frog's skin and causing them discomfort. Cuban tree frogs can also be trapped by glueboards that are place where the frogs rest.[17]


A Cuban Tree Frog's call:


  1. Osteopilus septentrionalis Wikispecies. Web. Last modified 6 August 2009. author unknown.
  2. Johnson, Steve A. Florida's Frogs & Toads: Treefrogs (Family Hylidae) Department of Wildlife Conservation Ecology and Conservation. Web. Last modified March 9 2013.
  3. Williams, Oneil. Facts on the Cuban Tree Frog in Florida eHow. Web. Accessed October 24, 2013.
  4. Cuban treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) Arkive. Web. Accessed October 24, 2013. Unknown author.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Cuban Tree Frogs: Facts, Characteristics, Habitat, and More Animal Place. Web. Accessed 7 October 2013. Author unknown.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Osteopilus septentrionalis (Dumeril and Bibron, 1841)- Cuban Tree Frog Environmental Library. Web. Last reviewed Spring 2007. author unknown.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Osteopilus septenrionalis Encyclopedia of Life. Web. Accessed 7 October 2013. Author unknown.
  8. Cuban Tree Frog ThePetFreak. Web. Accessed October 13 2013 author unknown.
  9. Johnson, Steve A.The Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) in Florida EDIS. Web. Last updated August 2010.
  10. Mac, Emmalise. Cuban Tree Frog Habitat & Care eHow. Web. Accessed October 13 2013 .
  11. .Cuban Tree Frog ThePetFreak. Web. Accessed October 9 2013.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Johnson, Steve A. The Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) in Florida EDIS. Web. Last updated August 2010.
  13. Johnson, Steve A. Invasive Cuban Treefrogs in Florida Dept. of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida. Web. Last Updated October 16 2011.
  14. Main, Douglas. Worst Neighbors Ever: Noisy Cuban Tree Frogs Could Be Hurting Florida’s Ecosystem Take Part. Web. Written on: June 6,2013.
  15. Williams, Oneil. Facts on the Cuban Tree Frog in Florida eHow. Web. Date accessed: October 9, 2013.
  16. . Cuban Treefrogs An Invasive Threat University of Florida. Web. Accessed October 20 2013 .
  17. Cuban Treefrog Control for the Yard bugspray. Web. Date of Publication: February 11, 2012. Author Unknown