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Greenhouse frog

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Greenhouse frog
Greenhouse Frog 1.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Eleutherodactylus planirostris[1]

GreenhouseFrog PointMap.jpg
Habitat point map

The Greenhouse frog is the common name given to the species of frog known by the scientific name Eleutherodactylus planirostris. The Greenhouse frog is a very small frog native to the Bahamas, Cuba, and the Cayman Islands. The greenhouse frog is most known for being extremely small, usually up to one and a half inches during adulthood. Unlike many frogs, the greenhouse frog lacks a tadpole stage in its life. These frogs live most of their lives on land, spending very little time in water. They usually live in areas that have fairly similar conditions to their native lands.

These animals have come into the United States and other countries such as Guam through the means of agricultural and horticultural transport, which is where the nickname, "Greenhouse frog" is derived. The frog spends much time on plants and has been introduced into the U.S. by transport. As the greenhouse frog invades and reproduces, precautionary measures have been taken into action in order to slow this invasive species from harming other native frogs.

Body Design

As seen by this picture, the greenhouse frog is small compared to the fingers around the cup.

The fully mature greenhouse frog is a relatively small amphibian that usually ranges in size up to about one and a half inches. After hatching, this vertebrate is about half of a centimeter long.[2] These frogs are colored with black and brown on their backs that may come in the varieties of spots, or in distinct lighter and darker speckled lines. While the top of the greenhouse frog is dark colored, the bottom side is colored white.[3] The greenhouse frog have red toned eyes with the colors on its back covering much of its face as well.[4]

The greenhouse frog possesses unwebbed feet that contain small adhesive pads on the end of each long toe. [5] The body of a greenhouse frog is flat and narrow with a pointed nose. [3]The textured skin on the greenhouse frog has been described as “warty”.[6]

Life Cycle

A fully developed Greenhouse Frog embryo, still in its egg and less than 0.5cm big

Typical in frog and toads, the greenhouse frog reproduction is sexual and oviparous (born as an egg). However, they are a direct-developing frog species and do not undergo metamophosis, and have no larval stage. As such, they do not depend on standing freshwater for larval development. Clutches of egg 3-26 in number laid under the cover of moist plant life or debris, and then abandoned by the parents soon after being fertilized. From there, a two week period of embryonic development begins within the egg until the embryo is mature enough to hatch as a fully developed frog. The egg embryos are more likely to survive hatching during 100% humidity. [4] After hatching, the Greenhouse frog is only about 0.5 cm in length, and will continue to develop until it is, on average, 1-3 cm in length. Despite being an amphibious species, the Greenhouse frog spends most of its life on land; the frog mates terrestrially.[2]

After a year from hatching, the Greenhouse frog reaches sexual maturity and begins to mate. Mating, as well as mating calls, take place from April to September, and reach a peak of activity during May to June. The male Greenhouse frog's calls from a flower bed or litter of leaves to attract a female. Greenhouse frog mating calls are short, bird-like chirps, and their frequency is affected by several factors. During the prime mating season, high humidity(96%+), warm temperatures(77°F), and during rainfall, the calls are more frequent and prominent. [7]


Greenhouse frogs prefer moist environments and the cover of plants
The greenhouse frog typically lives in moist areas.[4] They seem to prefer to live in areas with similar rainfall and temperatures to their natural habitats such as Cuba. [8]The annual average temperature in Cuba is about 77°F with an annual rainfall average of 52in.[9] These frogs have been found to live in caves, forests, grasslands, and grounds in urban areas such as greenhouses, and even junkyards.[3] They have also been found in Texas, which shows that they are capable of living in warmer, dry areas.[4] When the time comes in order for laying eggs, a greenhouse frog will usually lay its eggs in a moist are such as a pile of wet leaves.[10]

The greenhouse frog fills the niche of many other common frogs. Its diet consists of insects such as ants and beetles as well as other smaller sized invertebrates.[10] As well as acting as a predator to some organisms, the greenhouse frog also serves as prey to other organisms. The greenhouse frog has varying predators for the different areas that it can inhabit. There are several different organisms that may consume the greenhouse frog in the Caribbean such as racer snakes and the Cuban treefrog. In Florida, a common predator is the ringneck snake. The brown tree snake in Guam also is a predator of the greenhouse frog. There are currently no records of any known predators of this frog in Hawaii. As well as these examples, this frog is consumed by various other Invertebrates, and vertebrate species. [8]

Invasive Behavior

American States that have been invaded by the Greenhouse Frog, most notably Florida, Georgia, and Hawaii.
Greenhouse Frogs are an invasive species, native to Cuba, and transported to new areas through the agriculture and horticulture industries. Because the frog is commonly found infested in plants and soils that are transported to new locations, it has earned its nickname and common name, Greenhouse frog. After arriving in a new location, the Greenhouse frog rapidly reproduces and spreads around the area quickly, having a relatively short incubation period.[4]

Greenhouse frogs usually damage the invaded ecosystem by eating insects and food sources commonly eaten by the native species. [11] Because of this fact, the greenhouse frog has become an increasing threat to the enviornments it invades.[3]In Hawaii, an area infected with this species, the damage actually done to the ecosystem is, in reality, insignificant, because there are enough competitors for food and enough predators to limit the species’ growth. However, Biologist William Martz says that the real concern is the attraction of invasive snakes to the area. [12]Since the Greenhouse frogs are abundant in number and easy prey, Martz fears that invasive snakes will grow rapidly in number in years to come, feeding off of the frog. [12]

The nocturnal frog mates and chirps at night, but is so quiet that it is not a major concern, especially compared to the obnoxiously loud croaks of the Coqui frog, another common frog invader. However, some find the chirps so serene and relaxing that some people have Greenhouse frogs imported into their gardens, and thus expanding their areas of invasion.[3]

Pest Control

Caffeine is an effective frog pesticide, though for still unknown reasons

In some areas, like Florida, the Greenhouse frog is not considered a major threat if one at all, and its population is kept in check by a variety of snakes and other predators. [11]However, in areas like Hawaii, the government has made several efforts to make the public aware of the species and its detrimental effects on the environment. The Hawaiian Government has even advocated for the public to capture and humanely dispose of the frogs, should they be found. [12]

Mostly as a result to rid Hawaii of the Coqui frog, researchers have found that both caffeine and lemon citrus kill the Eleutherodactylus.[13] Both lemon citrus and Caffeine are effective killers of the Eleutherodactylus, but only citric acid is a currently legal pesticide. [12]In field tests with Caffeine, frogs died almost instantly from reasons unknown to scientists, with little to no side effects to surrounding insect or plant populations.[13] The hydrated citrus, only just slightly less effective than the Caffeine, produces promising results with few identifiable side effects.[12]


An audio clip of the Greenhouse frog's melodious chirping


  1. Eleutherodactylus planirostris Wikispecies. Web. Last updated August 12, 2011. Author Unknown.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Greenhouse Frog - Eleutherodactylus planirostris. The Frogs & Toads of Georgia. Web. Published May 25, 2008.Unknown author
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Greenhouse frog (Eleutherodactylus planirostris. ARKive. Web. Accessed October 9, 2013. Unknown Author.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Eleutherodactylus planirostris (amphibian). Global Invasive Species Database. Web. Last modified March 29, 2010.Unknown author.
  5. Greenhouse Frog - Eleutherodactylus planirostris planirostris (invasive).Frog Listening Network. Web. Accessed October 9, 2013. Unknown Author.
  6. Greenhouse Frog. Web. Accessed October 9, 2013. Unknown Author.
  7. Lannoo, Michael. Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species. University of California Press. Book accessed online via Google Books. Published June 15, 2005. ISBN 0520235924.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Olson, Christina, Beard, Karen, and Pitt, William. Biology and Impacts of Pacific Island Invasive Species: 8. Eleutherodactylus planirostris, the Greenhouse Frog(Anura: Eleutherodactylidae). Pacific Science. Web. Published on November 30, 2011.
  9. [1] Web. Accessed on October 9, 2013. Unknown Author.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Johnson, Steve. Florida's Frogs & Toads. Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation. Web. Last Modified on June 1, 2011.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Nonnatives – Greenhouse Frog Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Web. Last accessed October 9, 2013). Author Unknown
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Raloff, Janet. Hawaii’s Hated Frogs Science News Online. Web. Published January 4, 2003.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Thompson, Rod. Pesky Alien Species Have Folks Hopping Mad Star-Bulletin. Web. June 5, 2000.