Importers are consistently bringing in non-native species that have few natural enemies once they have escaped. The Cuban tree frog belongs in this category. Watching these characters climb up the patio doors or hide upon the ledge on the front porch, you’d think they are just the cutest things.
They are, but beneath those big black eyes, they are also menaces. They are aggressive invaders pushing out Florida’s native frogs.
In a report, Steve Johnson of the University of Florida writes, “North Florida residents accustomed to tiny tree frogs may feel jumpy – a giant Cuban species has colonized half the state and is moving north. The Cuban tree frog may threaten its native counterparts.”
The amphibians have already become a nuisance to homeowners and utilities workers. Johnson is more concerned about the frogs becoming established in natural areas.
Early research suggests they may eliminate native tree frogs by competing with them for food and shelter or by simply devouring them. In one wooded area, Johnson set up PVC pipe “homes” to attract tree frogs for study. He found 130 Cuban tree frogs and no natives.