INVASIVE SPECIES ALERT: The Cuban Tree Frog in Dominica

The Cuban Tree Frog has been found in Portsmouth

CURRENT LOCATION: Portsmouth port-of-entry shipping yard, Portsmouth, Dominica.

DESCRIPTION: Cuban tree frogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis) are the largest species of tree frog in North America, ranging from 3 to 5.5 inches long, with the female being generally larger than the males. They also have some of the largest toe pads seen in tree frogs. The coloring of their rough and warty skin depends on the surrounding temperature and environment, as Cuban tree frogs change their skin color to suit both. Common shades include olive-green, blue-green, bronze, brown, tan, gray, and grayish-white (Dub, 2014).

CAUTION: The skin of the Cuban tree frog secretes toxic mucus which can cause a burning sensation or trigger an allergy attack in the person who handles it (Dub, 2014).

LOCATION: The Cuban tree frog is native to Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Cayman Islands (Dub, 2014).

HABITAT: Like many other species of tree frogs, the Cuban variety seeks out trees and plants near bodies of water in areas where the humidity is consistently very high. The Cuban tree frog requires an environment that never falls below 50°F and where a daytime temperature ranging from 73 to 84°F is maintained (Dub, 2014).

DIET: As an aggressive carnivore, the Cuban tree frog will devour anything it can overpower: snails, insects, snakes, lizards, crustaceans, spiders, hatchling birds, and other frogs (including other Cuban tree frogs). Keeping Cuban tree frogs in the same tank as other species of frogs can be fatal to the other species since the Cuban tree frog can and sometimes will eat them (Dub,
2014).

BREEDING: On average, a female Cuban tree frog can lay 3,000 eggs in one clutch. Those eggs hatch within 30 hours and within one month, the tadpoles mature into full grown frogs Cuban tree frogs breed all year, but reproduction usually takes place between May and October (Dub, 2014).

LIFESPAN: Cuban tree frogs can live between 5 to 10 years.

ECOLOGICAL THREAT: The Cuban tree frog is considered an invasive species in Florida, Oahu, and parts of the Caribbean. This means that its presence is doing great harm to the native animal populations. In this case, Cuban tree frogs are causing a decline in the indigenous tree frog population (Dub, 2014).

IMPACT ON HUMANS: Cuban tree frogs are also a general nuisance for humans as well. They take over birdhouses, clog sink drains, and sometimes cause power outages by shortcircuiting utility switches (Dub, 2014).

A METHOD OF CONTROL: It is recommended that the Cuban tree frog should be captured and euthanized in a humane manner.

However, never handle a Cuban tree frog with your bare hands; please use rubber gloves or disposable gloves or plastic grocery bags. In addition, make sure that you can properly identify the Cuban tree frog before you euthanize. To capture the frog, approach it quickly and decisively; simply grab the frog firmly (Johnson, 2017).

Here is the easiest way to humanely euthanize a Cuban tree frog: Place the bagged frog into a refrigerator for 3–4 hours; then transfer it to a freezer for an additional 24 hours. The initial cooldown period in the fridge acts as an anesthetic to get the frog numb so it does not feel any pain when it freezes.

Alternatively, you could firmly hold a recently captured Cuban tree frog and apply a benzocaine-containing ointment to the frog’s back to chemically anesthetize it before placing it into a freezer to ensure its death.

Another method of euthanasia is by applying a 1-inch strip of topical benzocaine ointment (Orajel is a popular brand) to the frog’s back. Rub the ointment all over its back. When the frog has stopped moving, put it in a sealed bag and place in a freezer for 24-hours. After freezing, simply remove the bagged frog from the freezer and bury or dispose of in the trash.

Do not use bug spray, sun tan lotion, insecticide, bleach spray, or other household chemicals to euthanize Cuban tree frogs, and never place a live, bagged frog into the trash (Johnson, 2017).

Reference:
Retrieved July 25, 2018 From http://frogs.cc/cuban-tree-frog-osteopilus-septentrionalis/
Johnson, S. A. (2017) The Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) in Florida Retrieved from http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu

Miguel Shillingford is a foresty officer at the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division: Environmental Education Unit of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Resilience, Disaster Management and Urban Renewal.

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11 Comments

  1. anonymous2
    July 30, 2018

    Can it be eaten? More food for the poachers if they can be eaten. They would then be doing a service to the island.

  2. Deb
    July 30, 2018

    We have this issue here in Florida too…they eat the native frogs and anything else they can and get big….they are hard to get rid of, but I did find out that they do not like surfaces with salt on them….like window sills….it kept them away for 3-4 months….now I need to salt again…

  3. Steve
    July 30, 2018

    What Native frogs reside on the islands?
    Frogs are certainly NOT a nusince to humans. Quite the opposite .
    They are and important part of the food chain and keep the insect population under control. Frogs are quickly becoming extinct with hundreds of species already gone forever.
    Instead of treating this poor animal as a pest, you should be thankful that this species can adapt to your habitats.

  4. Helen lovejoy
    July 30, 2018

    Won’t anyone please think of the children!?

  5. me
    July 30, 2018

    How about crusbing it under foot or hitting it with a stone or maybe give it a dood 2×4 ?

  6. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    July 30, 2018

    How did they get to Dominica, and what measures are taken to eradicate that species of frogs from the island?

    Whereas it is a carnivore; is likely to prey on our local Crapaud (crapo), if left to thrive in the country most certainly it will destroy the crapo, in addition to other wild life.

    • Bouche Cabrit
      July 30, 2018

      Here goes Mr Kmow-it-All…

  7. July 30, 2018

    Can they be eaten, like our national frogs we use to have plenty of , once upon a time before labor took over, our birds and frogs?.

  8. Iamanidiot
    July 30, 2018

    “Another method of euthanasia is by applying a 1-inch strip of topical benzocaine ointment (Orajel is a popular brand) to the frog’s back. Rub the ointment all over its back. When the frog has stopped moving, put it in a sealed bag and place in a freezer for 24-hours. After freezing, simply remove the bagged frog from the freezer and bury or dispose of in the trash.”

    Ya right….lol

  9. zandoli
    July 30, 2018

    I am not sure I understand that article. Did the authorities discover one frog at the port? Do they have reason to believe it has already escaped into the surrounding area?
    Please be more specific.

  10. Observer 1
    July 30, 2018

    Lord help us! Will the area where they have been found be quarantined? What measures are being put in place by the relevant authorities to mitigate the threat to our indigenous biodiversity?

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