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Cuban Tree Frog

Osteopilus septentrionalis


The Cuban tree frogs range in size from 3 to 5.5 in (76 to 140 mm) in length. It is the largest tree frog in North America; it has a rough warty skin. Their toepads are much larger than those of other tree frogs, and they will often have an orange tint to their eyes. They vary in color from olive-brown or bronze to gray or grayish-white. Cuban tree frogs can change colors depending on their temperature and environment. Many individuals have darker splotches on the back, and some splotchy banding on the legs. In many individuals, the hidden surfaces of their legs are bright yellow. When the frog leaps to avoid a predator, these bright-yellow patches are visible, and may help to confuse the predator. Also, the skin on their heads is fused to the skull; if the head of an adult frog is rubbed (between the eyes), the skin does not move. This special adaptation prevents water loss, since fewer blood vessels occur in the "co-ossified" (fused) area. When handled, Cuban tree frogs secrete a toxic mucus from their skin. In humans, this can cause an allergic reaction or burning sensation to the eyes and nose, and even trigger asthma.


Cuban tree frogs are known to inhabit a variety of habitats, including estuaries, low-density suburban development, small towns, agricultural areas, particularly ones with exotic plants, and lowland forests and swamps. Within their habitats, they can be found in damp, shady areas, particularly around shrubs and trees, by cisterns, rain barrels and buildings


The Cuban tree frog is native to Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Cayman Islands. This large frog has been introduced in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, many islands of the Lesser Antilles, and Hawaii. Whether the species was native to the Key West region of Florida is debated, or if it was introduced to the area. First discovered in the 1930s, they may have arrived on ships in the 1800s or could have made it to the area by natural means. They can survive in brackish water, which may have helped the species to spread to various islands. The Cuban tree frogs' progressive colonization into the mainland of Florida is believed to be abetted by use of Florida State Road A1A construction during the 1940s. The species is now established in southern Florida and parts of the panhandle region, and can be found as far north as South Carolina. The Cuban tree frog is known to hitchhike on shipments of potted plants, vegetation, packaging, boats, and other motorized vehicles. Once in a new location, the frogs become an invasive species. They have several good colonizing traits, such as high fecundity, short generation time, a diverse diet, good competitive ability, and the ability to coexist with humans. In addition, they also secrete a toxic mucus from their skin which helps to limit the number of natural predators.

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1 Comment 11 years ago

Nice frog photo

Spotted by

Tampa, Florida, USA

Spotted on Jun 9, 2013
Submitted on Jun 9, 2013

Spotted for Mission

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