Osteopilus septentrionalisCuban Treefrog

Geographic Range

Osteopilus septentrionalis is native to Cuba and nearby islands. it has also been introduced throughout the Caribbean and into southern Florida (Bartlett, 1996).

Habitat

Typical of tree frogs, O. septentrionalis spends most of its time in trees or very large plants, especially those with large leaves.They are found only where low temperatures stay above 10 degrees C, with daytime temperatures between 23-29 degrees. This species also prefers areas of high humidity, thus it is very common along waterways. As O. septentrionalis has been introduced, it has become particularly abundant around the pool areas of hotels, where the comination of large decorative vegetation and abundant food resources have made for a favorable habitat (Bartlett,1996).

Physical Description

This is the largest of the American tree frogs. Males generally have a maximum size of 5.1-6.3 cm (SVL), with females being much larger, attaining a size of 12.7 cm (SVL). Osteopilus septentrionalis is highly variable in color, but they are usually some shade of gray, tan or olive, occasionally with dark, marbled blotches dorsally. Their skin is very textured, and they have extremely large eyes and toe pads (Bartlett, 1996).

Development

Reproduction

This species reproduces in late spring, as temperatures climb into the range of 27-29 degrees C. Males typically establish some kind of territory in a pond or flooded ditch, and call to females with vocalizations consisting of clucks, growls and squeaks. Mating occurs via inguinal amplexus, and eggs are laid in scattered masses underwater.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)

Lifespan/Longevity

  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    12.9 years
    AnAge

Behavior

Osteopilus septentrionalis is an almost entirely nocturnal species, and spends its active time either searching for prey or defending their territories. For the most part, O.septentroinalis is arboreal, but is known to venture onto the ground to hunt and breed. During the day, they usually spend their time on the underside of large leaves or hidden in crevices in trees, where it is typically more humid (Bartlett,1996).

Food Habits

Osteopilus septentrionalis is a voracious predator, and will eat almost anything they can fit in their mouths. They are generally insectivorous, feeding mainly on large cockroaches and moths. however, large adults are known to consume everything from small lizards and snakes to young mice and even hatchling birds (Bartlett, 1996).

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Osteopilus septentrionalis does not appear to have much of an impact on human beings, aside from a very small representation in the American pet trade.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

This species has been widely introduced throughout the Caribbean and into southern Florida, and appears to be having a negative impact on the ecosystems it is invading. It has been observed that in the areas of introduction, there has been a marked decrease in the populations of native tree frogs, probably due to predation and competition for resources (Bartlett,1996).

Conservation Status

Currently, numbers of Osteopilus septentrionalis appear to be on the rise. They appear to be doing especially well in urban residential areas, and are spreading very rapidly throughout the Caribbean. This does not bode well for native species of tree frog, which don't appear to be able to compete with O. septentrionalis.

Contributors

Gregg Barcelow (author), Michigan State University, James Harding (editor), Michigan State University.

Glossary

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

ectothermic

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

introduced

referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.

island endemic

animals that live only on an island or set of islands.

metamorphosis

A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

References

Bartlett, R., P. Bartlett. 1996. Frogs, Toads, and Treefrogs. Hauppauge, NY: Barrons Publishing.