Exotic species: Cuban tree frogs

“Hey there! My name is Kurt. I live in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and I believe we have a Cuban tree frog at our house. I’ve never seen one, but we recently bought a sabal palm from Florida, and I suspect it’s one. If you could help me with identifying it, I would be very grateful. We think it’s either a Cuban or a grey.”

Kurt also followed up with more observations. “So the main reason we wondered was because it looked way different than the Cope’s grey tree frogs we’ve seen. We were watching it for weeks on our porch at night and got some good looks of it. We have a lot of little green tree frogs on our glass at night, too. And to be honest we euthanized the Cuban tree frog. We were as sure as we could be that it was Cuban tree frog. It was a lot faster and dartier than other frogs. I didn’t want to kill it, but I did it to hopefully keep the greens and greys around.”

Brad Glorioso, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, described the problems with Cuban tree frogs: “Homeowners may be familiar with the nuisance species as they have noxious skin secretions, lay their eggs in bird baths and ponds, and can clog plumbing and cause power outages by short-circuiting utility switches where they seek refuge.” Cuban tree frogs also displace native tree frogs and disrupt local ecologies. “They often end up in places with unsuitable climates, but in south Louisiana, Cuban tree frogs appear capable of withstanding seasonal cold spells by seeking appropriate refuge,” said Glorioso.

According to the Florida Wildlife Extension at the University of Florida, “The secretions from their skin can be very irritating to your skin and eyes. To avoid getting the secretions in your eyes, always wash your hands immediately after handling any toad or frog. The secretions from the skin of any frog or toad can cause eye irritation for some people, but this is especially true with the Cuban tree frog.”

The map below shows the parishes with Cuban tree frog infestation and includes Lafayette, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany parishes. If you suspect you have a Cuban tree frog, bring a specimen or send a photo to the LSU AgCenter or to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

To contact the author, send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, area horticulture agent, at khawkins@agcenter.lsu.edu or call 318-264-2448. Please include the name of your parish.

Closeup of a small Cuban tree frog perched on a large wide green leaf.

Figure 1. Cuban tree frogs, like this one seen in Louisiana, can outcompete native species and become a nuisance to homeowners. Photo by Brad Glorioso, U.S. Geological Survey.

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Figure 2. A map of Louisiana showing known infestations of Cuban tree frogs. Image: NOLA.com

6/1/2023 2:35:43 PM
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