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Treefrog resting on saw palmetto frond.

Is That A Cuban Treefrog?

Frogs are a hot topic right now, so I’m going to keep going with this topic…

If you missed my last frog blog, you can find it here. In this blog, I talk about two invasive frog species: the Cuban tree frog and the cane toad. Today, I want to focus in on the Cuban treefrog, and how you can tell it apart from one of its native lookalikes. We have five species of arboreal frogs in Pinellas County, two of the five we will explore today: the invasive Cuban treefrog and the native green treefrog. These species can look similar, so let’s look at some ways to tell them apart.  

Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis)

The Cuban treefrog can be tough to identify. This treefrog is a invasive species found in Floridathreatening native treefrog populations. It is also the largest treefrog we have in Florida, growing up to five inches long (a key characteristic to keep in mind)! 

Cuban treefrog on the ground near vegetation

Cuban treefrog found in a yard in Pinellas County. Photo Credit: Linda Lou

One thing to note is the bumpy or warty texture of the Cuban treefrogs’ skin.  It also secretes a sticky mucus that, if touched, can cause skin irritationTheir skin color varies and can be found with wavy patterns or blotches on their back. They are usually creamy white to light brown but can be green, gray, yellow or combination of all these! Cuban treefrogs are known for having larger toe pads and more bulgy-looking eyes than our native treefrogs, but those characteristics aren’t always the most obvious.  

Brownish tan Cuban treefrog with green stripe along its side

Brownish tan Cuban treefrog with green stripe along its side. Photo Credit: Steve A. Johnson.

Light brown Cuban treefrog with green back and patterning.

Light brown Cuban treefrog with green back and patterning. Photo credit: Steve A. Johnson

Now, let’s look at the native green treefrog.

Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea)

These treefrogs are long, thin, and usually green with a pale stripe running from the front of the face along its side.  Sometimes this strip has dark borders, and sometimes they lack the stripes altogether. These are generally smaller than Cuban treefrogs, only growing up to 2.5 inches long.  The green treefrog has bright to dark green, sometimes grayish, skin, but it is smooth (unlike the warty skin of the Cuban treefrog).  

Green treefrog on leaflet of fern.

Green treefrog on vegetation. Photo credit: Gail Parsons.

 

Other Tips:

Another great way to identify these frogs is by the sounds they make. To listen to the sounds these frogs (and others) makevisit: https://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/frogquiz/index.cfm?fuseaction=main.lookup 

Screenshot of USGS Frog Call Lookup Website

Screenshot of USGS Frog Call Lookup website

From this page, you can select Cuban treefrog from the “Common Name” drop-down list and select “Submit”, and then press the play button on your screen. Then you can select the back arrow and repeat the process for the “Green treefrog”.  You will notice their calls are distinctly different. The call of the Cuban treefrog is high-pitched rasp, compared to the quicker, shorter notes of the green treefrog.  

 Summary  

To help you identify these two treefrog species if you encounter them, take note of: 

  • Overall size  
  • Coloration  
  • Skin texture  
  • Sounds they make 

Hopefully with these helpful key notes, you will be able to identify the difference between the Cuban treefrog and green treefrog. If you’re still unsure, but curious to know, take a picture and send it to me at lara317@ufl.edu.  

Check out our other blog on the Cuban treefrog at: http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/pinellasco/2020/09/30/what-kind-of-frog-is-this/  

 Blog written by Lara’s intern: Alexis Visovatti