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,
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).
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.