Florida Tree Frogs: Learn How To Identify All Florida Frogs!

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Nov 02, 2023 By Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Originally Published on Jan 10, 2022
Cuban Tree Frog on Back lit Leaf.

There are more Cuban tree frogs in Florida than native tree frogs!

Florida roughly has around 30 species of frogs that are native to the place and come from five families, to be precise. Of these 30 species, eight are tree-dwelling frogs that come from the Hylidae family.

However, Florida is home to an invasive species of frog named the Cuban Tree Frog that eats five of the native species, thereby reducing their range.

Cuban tree frogs are often confused with the native tree frogs of Florida as they have existed in the state for a very long time. The Cuban tree frog, or Osteopilus septentrionalis, was accidentally introduced into the state through packing and shipping materials around the '20s.

Ever since, these species have become alienated pests throughout the state and are considered quite bothersome by the native people, especially in the tropical parts of Southern Florida.

This Cuban tree frog is not only a difficult creature to identify and a nuisance, but these frogs that live in trees also vary in appearance, color, and markings.

Some of the frogs from this species are white, brown, tan, green, yellow, or a combination of colors. Their size is usually from 1-6 in (2.5-15.2 m) and not more than that.

Some of the native tree frogs that people in Florida confuse with the Cuban tree frog are Cope's gray tree frog, squirrel tree frog, and the barking tree frog.

These alien pests, however, are not only dangerous to pets, but like most frogs in wildlife, they also possess a toxic substance on their skin. It can become highly irritating to the mucous membranes, such as the eyes and nose of humans.

The reason behind their being a nuisance to the suburban residents of Florida is that the Cuban tree frog often enters homes through vents and drains, and they are also noted to cause power outages by entering electricity generating equipment. They spend most of their time during the day hiding and protecting themselves in confined spots and protected areas.

During the nights, they come into the suburban areas, and they do enter natural areas as well.

You can hear their calls at night distinctively, and the sound resembles something of a raspy snarl! It can even be heard when it's raining during the day.

During the breeding season, this tree frog will gather in small groups around fish ponds and natural pools. The males will begin to call the females in the early hours of the morning so that they can begin spawning.

After the breeding season, the tree frog is known to return to a more terrestrial habitat.

As mentioned earlier, Cuban tree frogs eat native tree frogs that are smaller than them and a variety of insects too, taking away the food from the native frogs! They get attracted to spaces and windows that are lit up, as these places also attract insects like moths and flies.

They are also found in people's toilets!

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida recommends capturing these frogs and humanely euthanizing them since they are a threat to native tree frogs. Euthanization is the process of putting an end to an animal's life in a painless manner in order to end its suffering.

Do Florida tree frogs change color?

Florida largely consists of an invasive species called the Cuban tree frogs, or Osteopilus septentrionalis, rather than the native frogs. An invasive species is defined as an animal, plant, or microbe that is known outside of its home range where it causes a negative impact on the environment or on the lives of humans.

Cuban tree frogs are, in fact, the largest tree frog species in North America.

Rather than the native tree frogs, Cuban tree frogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis) are known to change colors, and in general, they come in varied colors like white, green, brown, and sometimes gray too!

They are also known to have unique markings or splotches on their skin.

Because of their colorings and their ability to camouflage well with trees in the environment, these treefrogs often get away from predators easily, both in the wildlife habitat and in urban areas.

Some of the native tree frogs found in Florida are the green tree frog, woods tree frog, spring peeper, bird-voiced treefrog, Cope's Gray tree frog, barking tree frog, and squirrel tree frog, among many others too.

In 2017, between the months of mid-September and mid-November, a group of scientists and a conservation group were able to remove around 2,000 Cuban treefrog tadpoles from two natural pools of water in Riverview, Florida.

Are tree frogs invasive in Florida?

The only species of tree frogs considered to be invasive in Florida are the Cuban tree frogs. These frogs were introduced into the state through packaging and shipping material in the '20s, accidentally.

The Cuban tree frogs, as their name implies, are native to Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Cayman Islands.

They are an invasive species because they have been found to eat many native frog species across the state of Florida!

Another reason for their being a pest or nuisance is that they often get into the homes of people and also cause power outages as they get into electricity-providing appliances! Furthermore, they have a call that sounds like a raspy snarl, and constantly hearing it can be quite irritating.

Identifying Florida's Tree Frogs

Apart from the Cuban tree frog, which belongs to an invasive species, other frogs that can be found around the state of Florida like the Green treefrog, Cope's treefrog, barking treefrog, pine barrens treefrog, pinewoods treefrog, Western bird-voiced treefrog, and the squirrel tree frog can also be found.

These frogs look a little similar to each other, and this makes it extremely difficult for the local residents to distinguish between them.

Most of them just generalize these frogs as belonging to the Cuban tree frog species. The easiest way to differentiate them is to take a look at their pads, which are present on their toes.

Of all these species, the Cuban treefrog is known to have the largest toe-pad.

Pair of barking tree frogs.

What is being done about the Cuban tree frogs in Florida?

Cuban tree frogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis) exist in huge numbers across the state of Florida and especially southern Florida.

Their range is even more than the native frogs of Florida. The local people are often instructed on what they should do if the numbers of these frogs become a lot around their homes.

The people of Florida are all pro for making their gardens the safe haven for some creatures that come in from wildlife.

However, they prefer only certain species to the others. Being the largest tree frog species found in North America, these frogs were actually introduced in Florida from the Caribbean through shipping material and packaging!

Unfortunately, these alien frogs have been classified as invasive species of frogs as they have been found to eat up the native frogs that are much smaller in size.

They can be quite the nuisance to homeowners only because their calls are extremely loud and they often end up in homes by coming in through vents and drainage holes.

People who own gardens and have small fish ponds also get irritated when they find small Cuban treefrog toads in them as the last thing they want is a nest of these frogs! One of the best things you can do to control the infestation of these Cuban tree frogs is to humanely euthanize them.

Wear gloves when you do this as these frogs give out a toxic substance from the skin on their backs that can cause severe irritation to the eyes and the nose.

It would work better if you used an ointment called Benzocaine to euthanize the frog. This process is a tedious one so getting an exterminator will also do.

The exterminator or animal control can help you relocate the Cuban treefrog toads or tadpoles to a much more appropriate environment.

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Written by Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason

Bachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason picture

Adekunle Olanrewaju JasonBachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

With over 3+ years of professional experience, Olanrewaju is a certified SEO Specialist and Content Writer. He holds a BSc in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. Throughout his dynamic career, Olanrewaju has successfully taken on various roles with startups and established organizations. He has served as a Technical Writer, Blogger, SEO Specialist, Social Media Manager, and Digital Marketing Manager. Known for his hardworking nature and insightful approach, Olanrewaju is dedicated to continuous learning and improvement.
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