What happened to the Cuban tree frogs in the freeze? Help UF/IFAS find out!

Photo of a Cuban tree frog clinging to a wallDo you have a Cuban tree frog invasion in your yard? You can help UF/IFAS study these frogs and learn how they responded to Florida’s recent long freeze. If you spot one, especially if you are in north Florida or the Panhandle, please contact Dr. Steve Johnson at tadpole@ufl.edu and send him a decent image or two. Dr. Johnson can confirm the identification and explain how to report your sighting.

Meanwhile, check out The Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) in Florida by Steve A. Johnson and How To Make a Treefrog House by Monica E. McGarrity and Steve A. Johnson, both published by the UF/IFAS Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, to learn the physical characteristics and life ways of these pesky invasive frogs–and what you can do about them if you spot them in your yard or home.

A photo of a Cuban tree frog clinging to a gloved human fingerProblem frogs

According to The Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) in Florida, Cuban tree frogs probably came to Florida in shipping crates from Cuba, the Cayman Islands, and the Bahamas. They began to draw attention in the 1920s and have fared well here ever since, competing with our smaller native tree frogs–in fact, often eating our smaller native tree frogs–and steadily taking over more and more territory. In yards and neighborhoods they can become a nuisance to people in various ways. Their droppings can create an unsightly mess. They clog plumbing. They may dissuade birds from using nesting boxes, and their skin secretions burn our eyes and noses. Their loud calls can disturb our sleep. And they lurk in and around our houses, waiting to leap on us.


Photo of a birdhouse with a Cuban tree frog peeping out the door and one perched on the roof

A photo of a Cuban tree frog in the act of eating a Florida native green treefrog.

A photo of a Cuban tree frog in a toilet bowl.

Cold weather makes frog-wrangling easierA photo of a Cuban tree frog on a gloved human hand.

First of all, it must be admitted: these frogs can be scary.

When they are very small, Cuban tree frogs are simply adorable creatures, all huge, jeweled eyes and cuteness. But as they mature, gorging the while on native frogs and tiny helpless baby birds, they can become intimidatingly large. Furthermore, they tend to hang out in groups. They like to gang up and get the drop on us, clinging stickily to their creepy, overhead niches, waiting to leap out. All this can make the prospect of tackling them somewhat daunting.

At this time of year, however, frogs become less intimidating. In warm weather, if you are the slightest bit hesitant about grabbing a frog, it will leap away nimbly. The prospect is unpleasant, since the frog could easily, for instance, plop down on one’s head and mingle itself with one’s hair. But the very same frog in winter will barely be able to move at all. Frogs are cold-blooded, which means that when the air around them is cold, they become sluggish. When it is very cold, the frog will be entirely dormant. That means that if you know where frogs congregate in your yard or home, you can easily grab them. They won’t try to get away, and you’ll have plenty of time to build up your courage. Photo of a woman reaching up with a plasti grocery bag over her hand presumably to remove a Cuban tree frog from a door jamb.

Again, if you catch a frog, and especially if you are in north Florida or the Panhandle, please contact Dr. Steve Johnson (tadpole@ufl.edu) and send pictures.

Further instructions for humane euthanization are in The Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) in Florida. Consult EDIS for more information about Cuban tree frogs and other invasive reptiles and amphibians in Florida. New publications on this and a host of other topics of interest come out every week at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.


Posted: January 16, 2023

Category: Invasive Species
Tags: Cuban Tree Frogs, Steve A. Johnson

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