The Cuban treefrog is my #1 hated invasive species for a number of reasons ranging from ecological damage to personally anger-inducing events and even slightly barf-worthy situations. I’ll explain that last one in a moment.

Cuban treefrogs are an invasive species from the Caribbean Islands that arrived in the US mainland most likely as stowaways aboard boats and as hitchhikers inside of cases of imported fruit. Free from their historical predators, they have managed to not only survive, but they’ve managed to thrive by forcing their American cousins (such as the green and squirrel treefrogs) out of their historic, native ranges.

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Cuban Treefrog

Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis)

An adult Cuban treefrog actively hunting late at night for prey among the foliage in Fort Myers, Florida. These aggressive and voracious natives to Cuba, the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas are wreaking havoc among Florida’s native species of treefrogs, and are out-competing them in terms of resources and habitat.

From my own experience, these heinous nocturnal beasts are wildly variable in color: brown, gold, yellow, beige, greenish, bronze, marbled, spotted and even nearly white. Unlike their native counterparts, they are loud. REALLY loud. My last home in Fort Myers, Florida was surrounded by papaya and banana trees (which Cuban treefrogs love) and it was like a rock concert at night when I was trying to sleep. I didn’t want to kill any, but I did encourage the local native snakes (and there were many) to hang around…. at least they are silent. It’s hard to be taken seriously when you say you didn’t sleep last night because of %$@*ing frogs. The tourists were often bad enough. What’s even worse is that these amphibious vikings are masters of getting INTO your house!

The night that forever made the Cuban treefrog the object of my gag-inducing disgust was on a hot, steamy summer night (you fellow Florida natives know what I mean when I say it’s 10 pm and your sweaty, wet clothes are sticking to your body from just the humidity) in Fort Myers when I had to make a late-night run to the grocery store for some things. I threw on a t-shirt, slipped on some shoes and headed out.

Cuban Treefrog

It was one of those nights (I’m sure everyone here knows what I mean) that after working way too many long days, you just want to space out and look around the store and not have to think about anything – especially work-related. So you browse and browse and browse some more. You spend WAY too long in the store, and after what seems like miles of wandering aimlessly with a nearly empty shopping cart, that nagging sock that’s slid down to the toe of your shoe starts driving you nuts. You pull up your socks, try to dig your foot deeper into your shoe, and maybe try tapping the side of your toe against your other shoe. Maybe you try to dig your foot deeper into your sock and things will fix themselves. Maybe you kick your shoe against something hard.

On the drive home, I was thinking that these socks are going in the trash the moment I get indoors. I get home, bring my purchases inside, and about two hours after putting on my irksome sock, I take off the offending shoe. With a defiant look of contempt, a still-alive, bloody Cuban treefrog with guts hanging out of its side and trailing behind it low-crawls out of my shoe and would have gone further if it wasn’t stuck to the sock still attached to my foot. After fighting the urge to toss my cookies I tossed my shoes, socks and that nasty little bastard out onto the lawn and spent the rest of the night with the heebie-jeebies. It wasn’t there in the morning, and

It wasn’t there in the morning, and its fate is still unknown.

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Rich Leighton
August 18, 2017

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