Cuban Tree Frogs are an interesting species that occasionally crops up in the pet trade in the UK, and is considered an invasive species in the United States. You might be interested in learning how to keep the Cuban Tree Frog. We’ll cover everything you need to know about the Cuban Tree Frog in this caresheet, from housing, heating, lighting, feeding, handling, keeping groups together and more.

An Introduction to the Cuban Tree Frog

Here in the UK the Cuban Tree Frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) is sold in the pet trade, often wild caught, due to it’s high populations in the wild. Wild caught amphibians should be treated with care as they’ll have been through a very stressful process of importation. We don’t recommend beginner’s buy wild caught species, and we try to stock captive bred where available. This species is sometimes captive bred in the UK, which is great to see! Elsewhere in the world, this species can be a bit of a pest. In the USA, migrants on boats from Cuba have become an invasive species in areas such as Florida, so you may be checking out this care guide after having found one in your back yard and wanting to know how to keep it! If so, you should still follow our guide of best practice, it’s not fair to take an animal from the wild if you aren’t going to provide for all it’s needs fully.

As the name suggests, Cuban Tree Frogs come from Cuba, the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas. Adult males are around the two to three inch mark, whereas females can be up to 5 inches or so. There is a massive size difference between adult males and females. They are very variable in colour, but usually a golden brown colour, sometimes with a green or grey tint.

Lifespan in captivity is usually stated to be around 10 – 15 years, far higher than their wild lifespan where they are often culled as pests or preyed on both other animals. With the best husbandry, I think you can definitely hope to have your frog close or even exceeding fifteen years. It’s worth noting if you’re purchasing a wild caught adult frog, you will have no idea how old they are.

Cuban Tree Frogs can be very noisy, especially in groups. They have a shrill croaking call and a number of lower level trills and clicks. They can chatter and croak away to each other all night, so we wouldn’t recommend keeping your pet Cuban Tree Frog in the bedroom unless you want to simulate quite a lively rainforest noise! Keeping a single Cuban Tree Frog, or a group of females only, will reduce the noise.

Housing your Cuban Tree Frogs

We recommend using glass tanks to house tree frogs of all species, including Cuban Tree Frogs. This is because glass tanks will allow you to provide adequate humidity and ventilation.

A 45 x 45 x 60cm Exo Terra or a 45 x 45 x 60cm Habistat Terrarium is ideal for two to three adult Cuban Tree Frogs. We’d recommend going larger to keep a group of four or more. As with all tree frogs, the more space you give them, the more natural and healthy behaviour you’re going to see so the bigger the better!

We have put together a few packages for you in terms of Tree Frog Setups, I highly recommend you check out the bioactive ones if you want to consider a fantastic rainforest for your frogs!

Heating

Cuban Tree Frogs can survive well in a range of temperatures, which has helped them become established in areas outside their natural habitat. I would recommend keeping them at an ambient of 75F (24C) and you can go up to 86F (29C) or so on the top of the tank to create a gradient. Night time temperatures can drop to 65F (18C).

You can provide this ambient through a heatmat and mat stat or temperature thermostat behind the tank. We don’t recommend the use of ceramic bulbs usually with frogs, as they tend to dry out the air far more than a heat mat. Use a thermometer to ensure your temperatures. Gentle lighting can then be placed on top of the tank and we recommend UVB lighting.

Lighting and UVB

Cuban Tree Frogs are nocturnal, but are opportunistic and could be described as crepuscular – active at dawn and dusk. We think that all species should be kept with low level UVB these days as best practice, but strictly speaking it isn’t mandatory for Cuban Tree Frogs. UVB has been proven to increase appetite, activity and colour levels, even in species in which it doesn’t increase the lifespan – giving them a better quality of life. Adding UVB will also add a photoperiod so your frogs know when it’s day and night, which is helpful. Your UVB should be on during the day and turned off at night.

We recommend a minimal amount of UVB – just a UV Index of 1-2. You can obtain this with a T8 6% Tube, or a T5 7% Shadedweller kit, with plenty of foliage at the top of the tank to mimic a forest canopy and filter some of the UV rays. As you can see the all in one Shadedweller is an inexpensive piece of kit as this comes ready to plug in and can sit comfortably on top of the mesh of your tank.

Water and Humidity

A base humidity of 50-60% is fine, but you should spike this up to around 70 or 80% twice a day with misting.

A large, fresh, clean water bowl must be available at all times. Cuban Tree Frogs do not spend much time in the water at all, but it should still be there as an option, and a large water bowl will increase the humidity of your enclosure as well. Make sure it’s cleaned regularly, they’ll often use it as a toilet!

Decor & Substrate

You will need a substrate that holds humidity without attracting bacteria or mold. If you’re using a glass tank, we recommend Arcadia EarthMix as an excellent natural substrate. Other options include Coir Fibre Husk or Orchid Bark. If you’re going for a bioactive setup, you’ll definitely want EarthMix as it contains vital minerals for your plants and cleanup crew. One Bioactive Starter Kit would cover a 45cm enclosure and this contains a great mix of items that will get you started with bioactive. Even if you don’t intend to add a full array of live plants, using a bioactive substrate with cleanup crew means you don’t need to clean the tank out as often and promotes healthy bacteria and air quality.

You should provide sturdy branches and plenty of cover at all levels of the tank, providing a rainforest like canopy, either with real or plastic plants, so the frogs can feel secure and choose when to bask.

Diet

Cuban Tree Frogs are one of the most voracious tree frogs. They will eat absolutely anything in the wild – including other frogs, which contributes to their invasive species status in the USA, as they eat native species that are smaller. It’s important not to keep babies in with adults, as they will get eaten.

In captivity you can feed them a diet of insects including crickets, waxworms, mealworms, locusts / hoppers, lob worms, earth worms and so on.

If your enclosure has UVB then we recommend a straight calcium twice a week, and a high quality multivitamin with D3 once a week. If your enclosure does not have UVB then we recommend a straight calcium once a week and a multivitamin with D3 twice a week.

Our livefood is delivered gutloaded, but this should be continued at home to make them as nutritional as possible.

Handling

We don’t recommend handling amphibians as a rule. Cuban’s Tree Frog are a large and fairly confident frog, but still have delicate skin that can be damaged. If you do intend to handle your Cuban Tree Frog, make sure your hands are very clean, and allow the frog to sit on you, don’t hold them tight or pick them up from above, rather scoop them up from below. You should be aware they can jump extremely large distances without any warning!

Sexing

Sexing baby and juvenile Cuban Tree Frogs is pretty much impossible. Sexing adult Cuban Tree Frogs is very easy as females are almost double the size of a male, but you do need to know that you’re comparing two adults and not an adult female and juvenile female.

Adult Males:

  • Very vocal
  • Have a dark nuptial pad at the base of their thumb
  • Half the size of females
  • Sometimes have less tubercles (bumps) on their back

Adult Females:

  • Quieter than males
  • Can be double the size of males, certainly significantly larger
  • May have more tubercles (bumps) on their back

How Noisy are Cuban Tree Frogs

Cuban Tree Frogs are very noisy. They have a croaking call, as well as a lot of trills and chatter to each other. They may talk to each other all night long. Studies have shown that Cuban Tree Frogs noise can actually disrupt the calls of other frogs in the area, disrupting breeding which is very problematic considering they are an invasive species in the USA. If you are keeping these frogs near other tree frogs you intend to breed, it could be problematic. We would not recommend these be kept in a bedroom, and be aware even in another room you may be able to hear them.

Here is a video that you can listen to the Cuban Tree Frog call in the wild

Housing Cuban Tree Frogs Together

Cuban Tree Frogs can be kept in groups of any mixed sex. They are not territorial and do not fight. However due care should be taken with sizes. You should not keep juveniles in with adults, as adults will eat other frogs and these are an extremely greedy frog! Bear in mind that the more males you have together the more noisy they will be. Having more females than males will tend to keep them quieter, or having a group of females.

Breeding Cuban Tree Frogs

Very few people breed Cuban Tree Frogs in the UK. This is because they are an invasive species and breed prolifically in the wild. They’re a hardy species that seems to survive importation well, and are extremely inexpensive. This gives people little incentive to breed them. If you did want to have a go at breeding them, they should breed in captivity under the same conditions as many other tree frogs. That includes a rain chamber for encouraging breeding, a drop in barometric pressure if possible, and then being able to separate, feed and house a large number of tadpoles and froglets. We’ve covered breeding tree frogs quite extensively in our White’s Tree Frog guide if you want more information.

Hopefully this caresheet has provided you with all the information you need to care for a Cuban Tree Frog. If you have any questions at all about keeping Cuban Tree Frogs, please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!

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