If you’ve ever come face-to-face with a Cuban Treefrog, you know just how annoying they can be. These invasive creatures, which were accidentally brought to Florida in the 1920s, are causing havoc in our ecosystems and causing headaches for humans. They’re not the easiest to identify either, with their chameleon-like ability to change colors. But fear not! In this article, we’ll show you how to get rid of these pesky critters and help protect our native wildlife.
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Identifying Cuban Treefrogs
Cuban Treefrogs come in various colors – white, gray, green, or brown. Some may have dark streaks or splotches on their backs, while others are almost solid in color. To get a better idea of what they look like and learn some useful identification tips, check out the Florida Invader: Cuban Treefrog photo gallery.
The Troublesome Nature of Cuban Treefrogs
These frogs, also known as Osteopilus septentrionalis, are native to Cuba, the Cayman Islands, and the Bahamas. Unfortunately, they pose a significant threat to our native ecosystems. Cuban Treefrogs feed on a variety of native frogs, lizards, and even small snakes, disrupting the delicate balance of our local wildlife. Their tadpoles also compete with native tadpoles for resources, further exacerbating the problem.
But it’s not just our natural environment that suffers. Cuban Treefrogs have made themselves at home in urban areas too. They love hanging out near lights on house walls, catching insects, and leaving unwelcome surprises in the form of stains. They invade birdhouses, lay eggs in fish ponds and bird baths, and can even find their way into our homes, causing trouble in toilets and sinks. These large frogs have even been known to cause costly power outages by interfering with utility switches. Our smaller native treefrogs, on the other hand, don’t cause such issues.
The good news is that we can all play a part in managing Cuban Treefrogs around our homes. If you spot one, report it and check the Cuban Treefrog range map to help monitor their spread. And most importantly, take steps to safely capture and humanely euthanize them. By doing so, you’re preventing their release back into the ecosystem, which would only perpetuate the problem.
To capture a Cuban Treefrog, use a plastic bag to avoid contact with their irritating skin secretions. These secretions can irritate your nose and eyes, and may even trigger asthma attacks. Once you’ve captured the frog, apply benzocaine (20%) to its back or belly. Benzocaine can be found in various products at your local drugstore, such as first aid or burn sprays and toothache gels or liquids. The frog will quickly become unconscious. Seal the bag and place it in the freezer overnight to ensure the frog doesn’t wake up, and then dispose of it the next day.
It’s important to note that Cuban Treefrogs are indeed fascinating creatures, with incredible adaptations that help them survive. However, due to human activities, they have become an invasive species in Florida and other tropical and subtropical areas. Their presence has dire consequences for our native species, already struggling with habitat loss. By humanely euthanizing invasive Cuban Treefrogs, we can give our native wildlife a fighting chance.
Research at UF
Dr. Steve Johnson at the University of Florida is at the forefront of Cuban Treefrog research. His team is dedicated to increasing our understanding of these invasive frogs, studying their impact on native species, and exploring potential control methods. One current project involves testing a Cuban Treefrog deterrent that may discourage them from using enclosed refuges, such as utility boxes. To learn more about this research, follow the links on the left under “Research.”
Let’s work together to protect our native wildlife from the threat of invasive Cuban Treefrogs. By taking action and spreading awareness, we can make a difference in preserving the delicate balance of our ecosystems.