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The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.




Osteopilus septentrionalis
Osteopilus septentrionalis
(Cuban Treefrog)
Amphibians-Frogs
Exotic
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Osteopilus septentrionalis (Duméril and Bibron, 1841)

Common name: Cuban Treefrog

Synonyms and Other Names: Giant Tree-frog, Marbled Tree-toad, rainette de Cuba (French), rana cubana, rana platernera (Spanish)

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Osteopilus septentrionalis is a large treefrog, averaging between 1-4 inches in length, with some individuals exceeding 6 inches, and females being larger than males (Johnson 2007), making it the largest treefrog in the U.S. (Bartlett and Bartlett 1999; Meshaka, 2001; Elliott et al. 2009). The toepads are noticeably large, similar in size to its tympanum (eardrum) (Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Elliott et al., 2009), and much larger than the native green treefrog. The Cuban treefrog’s skin color and pattern are highly variable between individuals of the species; they range from unpatterned to heavily-patterned, from gray, tan, brown, bronze, olive-green to blue-green (Elliott et al. 2009; also illustrated in Dorcas and Gibbons 2008; Knapp 2008; Krysko et al. 2011a). Unlike indigenous U.S. treefrogs, the dorsal skin on adult O. septentrionalis is fused to the skull; this is a defining character of the species (Powell et al. 1998; Meshaka 2011). Younger individuals are difficult to distinguish from indigenous U.S. treefrogs because they lack “warts” and exhibit very little pattern; however, they lack the light or dark lateral stripe found on some treefrog species (Conant and Collins 1998). Cuban treefrogs also have blue-colored bones; the bone color can often be seen through the transparent skin of juveniles (Johnson 2007). Tadpoles are black or darkly pigmented dorsally, with a visible intestinal coil ventrally, and a moderately pigmented tail with light areas on the anterior musculature (Gregoire 2005; Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008). The call of the species has been described as sounding like a high-pitched snoring rasp.

Size: 28-165 mm SVL (snout-vent length)

Native Range: Osteopilus septentrionalis is indigenous to Cuba, the Bahamas, including San Salvador and Acklins Island, and the Cayman Islands (Echternacht et al., 2011; Heinicke et al., 2011; Krysko et al., 2011a).

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Osteopilus septentrionalis are found here.

StateYear of earliest observationYear of last observationTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
Alabama200720122Lower Tallapoosa; Mobile Bay
Colorado198919891Middle South Platte-Cherry Creek
Florida1931201954Alafia; Apalachee Bay-St. Marks; Aucilla; Big Cypress Swamp; Blackwater; Caloosahatchee; Cape Canaveral; Carolinian; Charlotte Harbor; Choctawhatchee-Escambia; Crystal-Pithlachascotee; Daytona-St. Augustine; Econfina-Steinhatchee; Everglades; Florida Bay-Florida Keys; Florida Southeast Coast; Floridian; Hillsborough; Kissimmee; Kissimmee; Lake Okeechobee; Little Manatee; Lower Ochlockonee; Lower St. Johns; Lower Suwannee; Manatee; Myakka; Nassau; New; Northern Okeechobee Inflow; Ochlockonee; Oklawaha; Peace; Peace; Peace-Tampa Bay; Pensacola Bay; Perdido Bay; Santa Fe; Sarasota Bay; South Atlantic-Gulf Region; Southern Florida; Southern Florida; St. Andrew-St. Joseph Bays; St. Johns; St. Marys; Tampa Bay; Tampa Bay; Upper St. Johns; Upper Suwannee; Vero Beach; Waccasassa; Western Okeechobee Inflow; Withlacoochee; Yellow
Georgia200420197Cumberland-St. Simons; Etowah; Lower Oconee; Middle Chattahoochee-Walter F; Ogeechee Coastal; Upper Chattahoochee; Upper Flint
Hawaii199619961Oahu
Indiana20002000*
Kansas200320031Big
Louisiana201320186Amite; East Central Louisiana Coastal; Eastern Louisiana Coastal; Liberty Bayou-Tchefuncta; Lower Mississippi-New Orleans; Vermilion
Maryland192719271Gunpowder-Patapsco
Massachusetts201820192Charles; Middle Connecticut
Mississippi201920191Upper Leaf
North Carolina201420141Haw
Ohio201920191Ashtabula-Chagrin
Puerto Rico195520073Cibuco-Guajataca; Eastern Puerto Rico; Puerto Rico
South Carolina201820193Broad-St. Helena; Calibogue Sound-Wright River; Cooper
Texas201720182South Laguna Madre; Spring
Virgin Islands197419741St. John-St. Thomas
Virginia199219921Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan

Table last updated 12/10/2019

† Populations may not be currently present.

* HUCs are not listed for states where the observation(s) cannot be approximated to a HUC (e.g. state centroids or Canadian provinces).


Ecology: Osteopilus septentrionalis is a tropical, mostly arboreal treefrog with an insectivorous/carnivorous diet (Meshaka, 1996c, 2001, 2011; Granatosky et al., 2011). They will eat small vertebrates, including other frogs and tadpoles (both indigenous and conspecific) and indigenous and nonindigenous lizards (Allen and Neil, 1953; Meshaka, 1996c, 2000, 2001, 2011; Granatosky and Krysko, 2011). Cuban treefrogs are capable of feeding on prey over twice their size (Wyatt and Forys, 2004). They are preyed upon by native snakes and owls (Meshaka and Ferster, 1995; Meshaka, 2001, 2011; Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008), and parasitized by the nematode, Skrjabinoptera scelopori (Meshaka, 1996d).
Cuban treefrogs have an extended breeding season that may last throughout most of the year in southern Florida (Meshaka, 2001, 2011). Female O. septentrionalis in Puerto Rico exhibit no selection in mate choice; a reproductive adaptation that may ultimately increase this frog’s fecundity (Vargas-Salinas, 2006). Breeding typically takes place when the air temperature is warm (~27C/80F), conditions are humid and/or rainy (Meshaka, 2011). Males are continuously fertile, and females may be gravid throughout the entire year, laying very large clutches that average around 4000-5000 eggs (Meshaka, 2001, 2011); it should also be noted that smaller egg clutches have also been found (W. Barichivich, USGS, per obs.). Eggs are typically laid in any warm, shallow body of water, usually lacking predatory fish, including man-made structures and holes formed by storm-toppled trees (Meshaka, 1993, 2011). Males of the species have been found to attempt to mate with native green treefrogs, southern leopard frogs, southern toads, and even dead frogs (Meshaka, 2011).
Cuban Treefrogs are a storm-adapted species that can immediately increase its fecundity and rapidly disperse during and after hurricanes (Meshaka, 1993, 1996b, 2011). This species is also very tolerant of saltwater, much more-so than native treefrogs, and can survive in water as salty as 10ppt; as a reference, the salinity of the ocean is 35ppt, and freshwater is nearly zero (Brown and Walls 2013).
Cuban Treefrogs are well known for exploiting man-made structures and water supplies, which results in the successful colonization of urban and suburban areas (Townsend et al, 2002). This species can be many times more numerous in urban habitats than in natural habitats (Meshaka, 1996a).

Means of Introduction: Osteopilus septentrionalis is usually introduced through horticultural shipments and plantings (especially palm trees) (Enge et al. 2008; Krysko et al., 2011b; Powell et al., 2011), hidden in building materials (Owen et al., 2005, 2006; Krysko et al., 2011b), and hitch hiking on motorized vehicles (Meshaka, 1996a; Enge et al. 2008).
Several authors have suggested that indigenous Cuban Treefrogs may have existed on Key West and the lower Florida Keys since pre-Colombian times (Lazell, 1989; Meshaka, 2001; Heinicke et al., 2011). It is possible that they dispersed throughout much of the Caribbean by rafting on floating vegetation (Meshaka, 2001). Early introductions into peninsular Florida in the Everglades is thought to be from purposeful releases by naturalists from populations in Key West (Allen and Neil, 1953; Meshaka, 2011).

Status: In the United States, the Cuban Treefrog is established throughout Florida in the peninsula and panhandle, as well as along the Atlantic coast to Savanah, Georgia, along the Florida panhandle, and in New Orleans, LA. It has also been introduced and become established in Hawaii, St. John, and Puerto Rico.

Impact of Introduction:  

Ecological Impacts

The Cuban treefrog has been noted for its ability to prey on indigenous frogs outside of its native range in Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and Florida (Johnson, 2007; Meshaka, 2001). Laboratory studies also indicate that they readily feed on adult native treefrogs (Wyatt and Forys, 2004). The presence of Cuban treefrogs in introduced habitat has been shown to decrease the abundance of native treefrogs, likely due to predation pressure, but competition pressures could also be responsible for the decrease in native numbers (Rice et al., 2011; Waddle et al. 2010). Cuban Treefrog tadpoles compete with indigenous amphibian larvae in Florida and have a negative impact on their growth and development (Smith, 2005). The survivorship of native squirrel treefrog Hyla squirrella tadpoles in the presence of Cuban treefrog tadpoles drops significantly (50 % lower, and sometimes zero with larger tadpoles) (Knight et al., 2009).

Male O. septentrionalis have been observed displaying mating behavior (amplexing, or “embracing”) with an indigenous female frog species including the southern leopard frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus), green treefrog (Hyla cinerea), and southern toad (Bufo terrestris); while these within-family pairings cannot produce hybrid species, the attempted mating by male Cuban treefrogs with native females could potentially affect the fecundity of native frog species if eggs are dropped by the female (Smith, 2004; Meshaka, 2011).

Native treefrogs, including the green treefrog Hyla cinerea, alter their calling effort in habitats with Cuban treefrogs present (Tennessen et al., 2013).

Economic impacts

This species has been known to invade a variety of manmade structures and homes and have been known to cause power outages when getting caught in electrical equipment; they can congregate in home pipes and enter homes through small openings or plumbing (Dahm, 2018; Johnson, 2007).

Human Health

Cuban treefrogs secrete a noxious chemical that can cause burning in the eyes and nose of humans and pets; this reaction may be more severe for people with asthma (Johnson 2007).

Remarks: Meshaka (2001, 2011) predicts that O. septentrionalis may eventually disperse to Jamaica, and much of the Caribbean. Additionally, Florida populations have the potential to spread along the Gulf Coast, throughout the coastal United States, then southward into Mexico (Meshaka, 2001, 2011; Rödder and Weinsheimer, 2009). Their northward dispersal in the United States may be limited by climate (Meshaka, 2001; Granatosky and Krysko, 2011) and a decrease in female body size with northward latitude (McGarrity and Johnson, 2009). However, Cuban treefrogs are quite tolerant to short-term exposure to freezing temperatures, and evidence suggests that previous exposure to cold may increase the ability of this species to withstand future cold weather events (Haggerty et al. 2015; Simpson 2013; Wilson 2010).

References: (click for full references)

Allen, E.R., and W.T. Neill. 1953. The treefrog, Hyla septentrionalis, in Florida. Copeia 1953(2):127-128.

Bartlett, R. D., and P. P. Bartlett. 1999. A Field Guide to Florida Reptiles and Amphibians. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston. 280 pp.

Brown, M.E., and S.C. Walls. 2013. Variation in salinity tolerance among larval Anurans: implications for community composition and the spread of an invasive, non-native species. The American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists 3:543-551.

Conant, R., and J. T. Collins. 1998. A Field Guide to Reptiles & Amphibians. Eastern and Central North America. Third Edition, Expanded. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 616 pp.

Dahm, D. 2018. Tree frog causes Kissimmee power outage; 800 customers lose power for more than hour. ClickOrlando.com. Orlando, FL. Created on 05/11/2018. Accessed on 03/04/2019.

Dorcas, M.E., and J. W. Gibbons. 2008. Frogs & Toads of the Southeast. The University of Georgia Press, Athens. 238 pp.

Duellman, W. E., and R. I. Crombie. 1970. Hyla septentrionalis. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (92):1-4.

Echternacht, A. C., F. J. Burton, and J. M. Blumenthal. 2011. The amphibians and reptiles of the Cayman Islands: Conservation issues in the face of invasions. Pp. 129-147. In: A.

Hailey, B. S. Wilson, and J. A. Horrocks (editors). Conservation of Caribbean Island Herpetofaunas. Vol. 2. Regional Accounts of the West Indies. Brill, Leiden.
Elliott, L., C. Gerhardt, and C. Davidson. 2009. The Frogs and Toads of North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York. 344 pp. + CD-ROM.

Enge, K. M., S. A. Johnson, and K. L. Krysko. 2008. Geographic distribution: Osteopilus septentrionalis (Cuban Treefrog). USA: Florida. Herpetological Review 39(4):480.

Granatosky, M.C., L.M. Wagner, and K.L. Krysko. 2011. Osteopilus septentrionalis (Cuban Treefrog): Prey. Herpetological Review 42(1): 8B.

Granatosky, M.C. and K.L. Krysko. 2011. Ontogenetic behavioral shifts in habitat utilization of treefrogs (Hylidae) in North-Central Florida. IRCF Reptiles & Amphibians 18(4): 194-201.

Gregoire, D. R. 2005. Tadpoles of the Southeastern United States Coastal Plain. United States Geological Survey Report, Florida Integrated Science Center, Gainesville. 60 pp.

Haggerty, C.J.E., and T.L. Crisman. 2015. Pulse disturbance impacts from a rare freeze event in Tampa, Florida on the exotic invasive Cuban treefrog, Osteopilus septentionalis, and native treefrogs. Biological Invasions 17(7):2103-2111. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10530-015-0863-x.

Heinicke, M. P., L. M. Diaz, and S. B. Hedges. 2011. Origin of invasive frogs traced to Cuba. Biology Letters 7(3):407-410.

Johnson, S.A. 2007. The Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) in Florida. Publication WEC 218:1-7. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw259.

Knapp, W. W. 2008. Cuban treefrog – Osteopilus septentrionalis. In: The Frogs & Toads of Georgia [online]. Available on URL: http://wwknapp.home.mindspring.com/docs/cuban.tfrog.html.

Knight, C. M., M.J. Parris, and W.H. Gutzke. 2009. Influence of priority effects and pond location on invaded larval amphibian communities. Biological Invasions 11(4):1033-1044.

Krysko, K.L., K.M. Enge, and P.E. Moler. 2011a. Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Florida. Project Agreement No. 08013. Final Report. Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Tallahassee. 524 pp. Also: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/herpetology/atlas/ and http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/herpetology/atlas/FinalReportKryskoEngeMolerAtlasofAmphibiansandReptilesinFlorida08013.pdf.

Krysko, K. L., J. P. Burgess, M. R. Rochford, C. R. Gillette, D. Cueva, K. M. Enge, L. A. Somma, J. L. Stabile, D. C. Smith, J. A. Wasilewski, G. N. Kieckhefer III, M. C. Granatosky, and S. V. Nielsen. 2011b. Verified non-indigenous amphibians and reptiles in Florida from 1863 through 2010: Outlining the invasion process and identifying invasion pathways and status. Zootaxa 3028:1-64 + MorphoBank Project No. p536: URL: http://www.morphobank.org.

Lazell, J. D., Jr. 1989. Wildlife of the Florida Keys: A Natural History. Island Press, Washington, D.C. 250 pp.

McGarrity, M. E., and S. A. Johnson. 2009. Geographic trend in sexual size dimorphism and body size of Osteopilus septentrionalis (Cuban treefrog): Implications for invasion in the southeastern United States. Biological Invasions 11(6):1411-1420.

McKeown, S. 1996. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians in the Hawaiian Islands. Diamond Head Publishing, Inc., Los Osos, California. 172 pp.

Meshaka, W. E., Jr. 1993. Hurricane Andrew and the colonization of five invading species in South Florida. Florida Scientist 56(4):193-201.

Meshaka, W. E., Jr. 1996a. Vagility and the Florida distribution of the Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis). Herpetological Review 27(1):37-40.

Meshaka, W. E., Jr. 1996b. Retreat use by the Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis): Implications for successful colonization in Florida. Journal of Herpetology 39(3):443-445.

Meshaka, W. E., Jr. 1996c. Diet and the colonization of buildings by the Cuban Treefrog, Osteopilus septentrionalis (Anura: Hylidae). Caribbean Journal of Science 32(1):59-63.

Meshaka, W. E., Jr. 1996d. Occurrence of the nematode Skrjabinoptera scelopori in the Cuban Treefrog, Osteopilus septentrionalis: Mainland and island comparisons. Pp. 271-276. In: R. Powell and R. W. Henderson (editors). Contributions to West Indian Herpetology. A Tribute to Albert Schwartz. Contributions to Herpetology 12. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Ithaca. 475 pp.

Meshaka, W. E., Jr. 2000. Colonization dynamics of two exotic geckos (Hemidactylus garnotii and H. mabouia) in Everglades National Park. Journal of Herpetology 34(1):163-168.

Meshaka, W.E., Jr. 2001. The Cuban treefrog in Florida: life history of a successful colonizing species. University of Florida Press, Gainesville, FL.

Meshaka, W. E., Jr. 2011. A runaway train in the making: The exotic amphibians, reptiles, turtles, and crocodilians of Florida. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 6 (Monograph 1):1-101.

Meshaka, W. E., Jr., and B. Ferster. 1995. Two species of snakes prey on Cuban Treefrogs in southern Florida. Florida Field Naturalist 23(4):97-98.

Owen, J., G. Perry, J. Lazell, C. Petrovic, and J. Egelhoff. 2005. Geographic distribution: Osteopilus septentrionalis (Cuban Tree Frog). British Virgin Islands. Herpetological Review 36(1):76.

Owen, J., G. Perry, J. Lazell, C. Petrovic, and J. Egelhoff. 2006. Geographic distribution: Osteopilus septentrionalis (Cuban Tree Frog). Colonization of the British Virgin Islands. Herpetological Review 37(1):74-75.

Powell, R., J. T. Collins, and E. D. Hooper, Jr. 1998. A Key to Amphibians & Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence. 131 pp.

Powell, R., R. W. Henderson, M. C. Farmer, M. Breuil, A. C. Echternacht, G. van Buurt, C. M. Romagosa, and G. Perry. 2011. Introduced amphibians and reptiles in the greater Caribbean: Patterns and conservation implications. Pp. 63-143. In: Hailey, B. S. Wilson, and J. A. Horrocks (editors). Conservation of Caribbean Island Herpetofaunas. Vol. 1. Conservation Biology and the Wider Caribbean. Brill, Leiden.

Rice, K. G., J. H. Waddle, M.W. Miller, M. E. Crockett, F. J. Mazzotti, and H. F. Percival. 2011. Recovery of native treefrogs after removal of nonindigenous Cuban Treefrogs, Osteopilus septentrionalis. Herpetologica 67(2):105-117.

Rödder, D., and F. Weinsheimer. 2009. Will future anthropogenic climate change increase the distribution of the alien invasive Cuban treefrog (Anura: Hylidae)? Journal of Natural History 43(19-20):1207-1217.

Simpson, S.E. 2013. Assessing critical thermal minima to determine the thermal limits of the invasive Cuban treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis). Thesis, University of Florida.

Smith, K. G. 2004. Osteopilus septentrionalis (Cuban Treefrog). Reproductive behavior. Herpetological Review 35(4):374-375.

Smith, K. G. 2005. Effects of nonindigenous tadpoles on native tadpoles in Florida: Evidence of competition. Biological Conservation 123(4):433-441.

Tennessen, J., S.E. Parks, R.W. Snow, and T.L. Langkilde. 2013. Impacts of acoustic competition between invasive Cuban treefrogs and native treefrogs in southern Florida. Page 010057 in Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics ICA2013. Acoustical Society of America.

Townsend, J. H., K. L. Krysko, A. T. Reppas, and C. M. Sheehy III. 2002. Noteworthy new records for introduced reptiles and amphibians from Florida, USA. Herpetological Review 33(1):75.

Vargas-Salinas, F. 2006. Breeding behavior and colonization success of the Cuban Treefrog Osteopilus septentrionalis. Herpetologica 62(4):398-408.

Waddle, J.H., R.M. Dorazio, S.C. Walls, K.G. Rice, J. Beauchamp, M.J. Schuman, and F.J. Mazzotti. 2010. A new parameterization for estimating co-occurrence of interacting species. Ecological Applications 20(5):1467-1475.

Wilson, L. 2010. Diet, critical thermal minimum, and occurrence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Cuban treefrogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis). Thesis, Valdosta State University.

Wyatt, J. L. and E. A. Forys. 2004. Conservation implications of predation by Cuban Treefrogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis) on native hylids in Florida. Southeastern Naturalist 3(4):695-700.

Author: Morningstar, C.R., and Daniel, W.M.

Revision Date: 9/26/2019

Citation Information:
Morningstar, C.R., and Daniel, W.M., 2019, Osteopilus septentrionalis (Duméril and Bibron, 1841): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=57, Revision Date: 9/26/2019, Access Date: 12/11/2019

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2019]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [12/11/2019].

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