Cuban tree frogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis) are an invasive species to the United States, but they are popular as tree frog pets. Have you found a Cuban tree frog in your back yard and are thinking of housing it or have you purchased a Cuban tree frog and want to know how to provide it with the best care? Continue reading for detailed information on these interesting and entertaining nocturnal frogs.
What are Cuban Tree Frogs?
Cuban tree frogs are the largest of the tree frog species you will find in North America. These frogs are brown, gray, or green in color with younger frogs being greener than the adults. They have rough, wart-like skin that has a mottled pattern. These frogs have the great ability to change their pattern and color based on their surroundings in order to camouflage themselves. They have bright yellow inner thighs.
The Cuban tree frog is nocturnal and is seldom seen during the day. They hunt and breed once the sunsets. They eat anything that will fit in their mouths, including smaller tree frogs.
Cuban tree frogs can be found in areas with large plants, trees, and waterways where temperatures don't fall below 50ºF (10ºC) with daytime temperatures of around 73ºF and 84ºF (23ºC and 29ºC).
These frogs inhabit a wide variety of different habitats from low-density urban developments to agricultural areas and lowland forests. They live in estuaries, areas with exotic plants, and swamps. They prefer damp and shady areas and can be found around trees and shrubs.
Cuban Tree Frog Distribution
As the name suggests, the Cuban tree frog comes from Cuba, the Cayman Islands, and the Bahamas. They are large frogs and have also been introduced to the US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. They can also be found in Florida, where they are now established in parts of the panhandle regions, southern Florida, and north of South Carolina.
These frogs have traveled on boats and vehicles to new locations where they become invasive, which has been experienced in the United States, especially in Florida.
Cuban Tree Frog Size
These are the largest tree frogs that can be found in the United States with sizes ranging from 2 inches to 5.5 inches (5cm to 12.7cm). Being voracious, these frogs eat almost anything that will fit in their mouth, including other Cuban tree frogs and other frogs native to the country they are invading.
Cuban Tree Frog Lifespan
Cuban tree frogs can live between 5 to 10 years in the wild. In captivity, the average age for these tree frogs is 12.9 years. When choosing to take a Cuban tree frog as an amphibian pet, bear in mind that they are a long term commitment.
Cuban tree frogs can be found in various habitats where the temperatures stay above 10ºC (50ºF). Alternatively, if a wild frog as a pet is not what you want, then there are numerous breeders you can use to purchase your new amphibian pet.
Cuban Tree Frog Quick Facts
Cuban tree frog
2 - 5.5 inches
5 - 10 years in the wild, 12 years in captivity
20 gallon tall tank for 2-3 adults
60% - 90%
65ºF - 90ºF
Hides and Accessories
Vines, branches, and driftwood for climbing
Crickets, waxworms, earthworms, silkworms, roaches
Calcium and multivitamin
Are Cuban Tree Frog Poisonous?
Cuban tree frogs are not poisonous to humans or your smaller pets. They do secrete a toxin from their skin, which can be irritating if you accidentally touch your eyes or skin after handling a frog. You may notice pets start salivating more than usual after holding one of these frogs in their mouth. Always rinse the eyes, skin, or pet’s mouth with fresh clean water and ensure you use good hygiene practices if you want to handle frogs in the future, which includes thoroughly washing your hands and rinsing them well before and after handling.
Are Cuban Tree Frogs Good Pets?
The Cuban tree frog is large and adaptable with a voracious appetite, which makes them a relatively easy amphibian pet, especially for the beginner frog owner. They are interesting frogs that are not to be cuddled and handled but can provide an interesting display when they get active as the sun sets, especially when they change their color based on their surroundings.
Cuban Tree Frog Setup
There are a number of important factors you are going to want to take into consideration if you choose to house a Cuban tree frog. Before you bring your frog home or if you have just rescued a Cuban tree frog in your yard, then you will want to set up an ideal habitat, taking the following into consideration:
Cuban tree frogs are active at night and will use the entire space you provide to them, which is why you want a minimum of a 20 gallon enclosure that is high. A 20 gallon will be ample for 2 - 3 adult Cuban tree frogs. Ensure you add a secure mesh screen cover that only allows for ample ventilation, but also reduces the risk of these excellent climbers from escaping.
Lighting and Temperature
Even though your new amphibian pet is nocturnal and only comes out with the sun setting, you will need to mimic day and night, so your frog can tell the difference. Adding light on a 12 hour timer is ideal, this can ensure the lights stay on for 12 hours and off for 12 hours. Using a timer ensures that even when you are out, the lights will turn on and off to keep a regular cycle.
These frogs can live in a variety of temperatures, which is why they are easy beginner amphibian pets. They don't appreciate temperatures below 10ºC. Their ideal daytime temperature should be between 26ºC and 30ºC (78ºF and 88ºF). Nighttime can drop to 18ºC (65ºF). Use a digital thermometer that can provide you fast and accurate readings, so you can measure your temperature regularly to ensure you are providing the ideal habitat for your Cuban tree frog.
The Cuban tree frog appreciates high humidity of between 60% and 90% during most of the year, due to their tropical climate habitat. Using a digital hygrometer, you can accurately read humidity levels at any time to ensure the comfort of your pet. You can increase humidity levels in a number of ways from the substrate you use to adding a large flat-water bowl below the heat source to misting once to twice a day. If you struggle to maintain humidity add foil, plastic wrap, or a piece of glass over a portion of the screen top to reduce the amount of airflow and help maintain the humidity levels your frog needs.
Due to the high humidity requirements of the Cuban tree frog, you will want a good natural eco earth or coconut fiber-based substrate that absorbs water and helps to boost humidity levels. Some Cuban tree frog owners use damp foam rubber and moist paper towel as a substrate.
Cuban tree frogs enjoy to climb and therefore you are going to want to provide them with plenty of vines, branches, and driftwood where they can climb and hide, creating little perches. You can use artificial or live plants to provide ample shelter to give your frog its privacy and ensure its comfort.
Cuban Tree Frog Diet And Supplements
As with all amphibians and reptiles, you are going to want to pay very close attention to the diet you provide, ensuring your frog has all the nutrients and vitamins it needs to remain fit and healthy, as it would in the wild. The most important things to consider is the food list and supplements you will need to ensure the best care for your Cuban tree frog.
These frogs eat just about anything that will fit in their mouths. They are not fussy eaters making them easy amphibians to care for. They will try and eat anything that will fit in their mouth, including other tree frogs. Their diet in captivity can include:
Living in captivity is very different from living in the wild, which is why you want to ensure you give your Cuban tree frog a good multivitamin and Calcium supplement. Calcium and multivitamin supplement will reduce the risk of illness, especially metabolic bone disease. Adults should have their food dusted with supplements up to four feedings per week. Juveniles should have their food dusted with supplements up to seven days a week, ensuring they receive the vitamins and minerals that they need to grow strong and healthy.
Knowing what food to give your Cuban tree frog is one thing, but you also need to know when, how, and amount to feed per week.
How much to feed
The adult Cuban tree frog will eat up to five live foods per meal. Ensure the cricket or food will fit in your frog’s mouth before feeding. Juveniles should be fed two to four crickets daily. What isn't eaten should be removed.
When to feed
As with all tree frogs, the Cuban tree frog is nocturnal, so evening is the best time to feed. Wait about an hour after your lights go out before feeding. Remember to remove any uneaten foods from the enclosure in the morning.
How often to feed
Adult Cuban tree frogs should be fed every two to three days with Juveniles being fed on a daily basis.
Gut loading is an excellent way to ensure that your frog gets all the vitamins and minerals it needs by feeding your crickets a nutritious meal before you give them to your amphibian pet. There are gut loading food products to feed your crickets you can purchase, such as prepackaged cricket foods. Wait 24 hours after feeding your crickets before you feed your Cuban tree frog.
Cuban Tree Frog Male or Female
If you have a number of tree frogs in an enclosure or you have just found a Cuban tree frog in your back yard, you may want to know if you have a male or female on your hands. The first sign is that females tend to be almost double the size of the males and have more wart-like bumps on their backs. Males, on the other hand, have black nuptial pads on their hands.