The Cuban tree frog is large, easily adaptable, and comes with a voracious appetite. Together, these characteristics make them a great amphibian for keepers of varying ages and experience.
This being said, though, we’d never recommend running out and buying an amphibian just because you’ve read somewhere (here, perhaps!) that they are good pets. Instead, we recommend doing plenty of research online before making a Cuban tree frog your newest family member.
Today, we’re giving your research a head start. In this in-depth article, we’ll cover basic Cuban tree frog care requirements, general information, FAQs, and even dive into the illnesses that can befall your amphibious friend.
|Cuban tree frog
|Cuba, Bahamas, Cayman Islands
|2.0” to 5.0”
|5 to 10 years
|24” x 12” x 16”
The Cuban tree frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) is a medium to large species of frog that is native to Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Cayman Islands. This tree-dwelling amphibian comes in an array of natural, muted colors and can change both their colors and patterns to fit their surroundings.
This species is nocturnal and has a voracious appetite, feeding on any prey items that it can fit in its mouth. It reaches a size of 2” to 5”, with females reaching a larger size than males, and doesn’t require an extremely large enclosure to thrive.
An appropriate enclosure will be humid, warm, and full of areas to explore. This fun-loving frog isn’t fond of human interaction, but can learn to tolerate handling when it’s absolutely necessary.
Cuban tree frogs vary in color. Most of the species are being, white, or brown, but they may also be dark-grown and more of yellow-tan color. Regardless of base color, all Cuban tree frogs have dark markings on their back and legs.
They have large toe pads, big “bug eyes”, warts, and a yellowish hue to the skin of their underarms and groins. Young Cuban tree frogs may have red eyes.
To house a single Cuban tree frog, you must have a 10-gallon tank minimum. Of course, your single frog will still appreciate a larger enclosure.
For each additional tree frog, it’s a good idea to add a few extra gallons to the size of the enclosure you’re looking to purchase. 20-gallon aquariums and terrariums tend to be a good size for a single or small group of frogs.
Keep in mind that, in the case of tree frogs, height is more important than width, since the frogs spend most of their time high up in trees and on branches.
If you’re struggling to find an enclosure that has enough height for your tree frogs, don’t worry! Aquarium conversion kits can be purchased online. These DIY kits will allow you to transform your top-opening aquarium into a front-opening terrarium. These kits are incredibly handy for taking 20-gallon long and breeder aquariums and turning them into extra-tall, frog-suitable terrariums.
While your new amphibian friend is nocturnal, it’s still a good idea to provide them with enough light to simulate the changing hours of the day. For example, many frog and reptile owners will purchase a daylight bulb that they turn on in the morning and turn off at night, or that they have set up to a timer.
Frogs may also benefit from a UV light bulb that mimics the effects that natural sunlight has on their bodies. Like the day bulb, the UV bulb should also be turned off at night.
Also, in this vein are blue and red nighttime heat bulbs. There is a debate on whether these bulbs are healthy to have on during the night, as the argument goes that the colored light being emitted can disrupt your frog’s sleep-wake cycle and, in turn, their feeding and activity schedule.
The temperature of the Cuban tree frog’s enclosure should be between 77 degrees and 88 degrees Fahrenheit. At night, the temperature can drop to as low as 65 degrees — although, we wouldn’t recommend a temperature drop this drastic because it can be a shock to your frog’s system.
At night, as long as your home stays at a decently warm temperature, you can shut your frog’s heat source completely off and let them stay at room temperature until morning.
Cuban tree frogs need a very high humidity within their enclosure. Without it, they can suffer from a host of illnesses and issues. To keep your tree frog happy and healthy, they require a humidity level of between 70 and 90%.
You can measure your humidity levels by purchasing and installing a hygrometer — a specialized device that measures the amount of water in the air within your enclosure. These can be digital or manual and can come in the form of guns (similar to temperature guns) or stick-on units that mount directly to the inside of the enclosure.
If you’re struggling to maintain your frog’s humidity, you can give it a boost by misting the enclosure with clean, dechlorinated water. You can also place a large water bowl beneath the heat source in the enclosure. This causes the water to evaporate into the air.
Because of the high humidity requirements of the Cuban tree frog, the substrate you choose to use will have to be something that is mold-resistant and can withstand high moisture levels. A natural eco-earth or coconut fiber substrate will work well. You can supplement your main substrate with sphagnum moss and leaf litter if you choose.
The substrate should be changed every few months and spot-cleaned regularly to keep the enclosure clean, sanitary, and stink-free.
In terms of decor, your frog’s terrarium should contain a plethora of branches, vines, logs, and other climbing decor. Ideally, you would supply your frog with a long branch of log that stretches close to the top of the enclosure for climbing purposes.
Your frog will also appreciate live or fake terrarium plants — or a combination of both. Since your frog is a tree frog, they will spend most of their time on the offered branches and wood and less time squishing any live plants that you may offer, unlike other species that are ground-dwelling.
The food that you provide your Cuban tree frog is the fuel that keeps your new pet alive and well, so it’s important that you meet its dietary needs.
Cuban tree frogs are carnivores and as such, they require a diet of insects and other meat-based prey items. In captivity, you can offer your frog a variety of items including waxworms, earthworms, crickets, roaches, and silkworms. Waxworms should be offered as an occasional treat instead of a staple, as they contain a high amount of fat and can quickly lead to your frog becoming obese.
Adults should be fed 2 to 3 times per week, and juveniles and babies daily. Your frog should be allowed to eat however much it can manage within 15 minutes.
In the wild, these frogs will eat smaller amphibians and reptiles but in captivity, it’s not recommended to feed them these items as they can be dangerous to the frog they are offered to.
In addition to staple items, it’s also beneficial to offer your frog vitamin supplements. Most notably, you’ll want to dust your frog’s prey with calcium powder at least once per week.
In captivity, Cuban tree frogs are rarely bred — mostly because they are an invasive species in countries all across the world including the UK and the USA. It’s very unlikely that you’ll find a captive breeder selling or offering Cuban tree frog young.
In the wild, though, and in captivity if they breed, Cuban tree frog females will lay clutches of up to 3,000 eggs. These eggs will hatch into tadpoles, a stage in which they will remain for 30 to 60 days before moving to the next stage of development.
In captivity, well-cared-for Cuban tree frogs can live for 10 to 15 years, making them a huge commitment. In their natural habitat, however, they average out at 5-7 years due to the unknowns and variables of their natural surroundings.
Like most frog species, Cuban tree frogs aren’t fond of handling. They have incredibly sensitive skin that absorbs anything that gets on it — including any chemicals or oils that are on our hands.
Your frog won’t try to bite you, but they may try to escape so it’s important that when you handle your frog, you do so close to the ground or the top of a surface in case they jump. If possible, avoid handling unless you have to for enclosure cleaning or veterinary visits.
Like reptiles, amphibians are prone to developing parasitic infections.They are typically first noticed in the feces of the frog, where dead or live parasitic worms can be noticed. Additional symptoms of these infections include lethargy and loss of appetite.
Fungal infections are common for amphibians. These infections can be first observed on the skin of the frog, typically in the form of light tan or dark gray-colored nodules. Other symptoms include lethargy and abnormal behavior.
Obesity in amphibians comes about the same way it does in humans — by eating an excess of fatty food or by eating too much. Obesity in frogs can be a serious issue, as it can affect your pet’s organs and bones, forcing the heart to work harder to supply them with oxygen.
Obesity is typically noticed physically, with the frog in question getting larger and larger around the middle and bulging at the sides.
Common in both reptiles and amphibians, MBD is caused by a deficiency in phosphorus, calcium, and vitamin D. The condition results in the bones becoming soft and brittle, leading to damage.
Symptoms of MBD include anorexia, bone fractures, spinal aberrations, reluctance to move, defecating issues, and leg abnormalities.
Cuban tree frogs are not territorial and can live in groups peacefully. The groups, however, must be made up of similar-sized frogs or there could be instances of cannibalism.
No, they are not toxic to humans or pets. The secretions from their skin can be irritating to the skin, though, so it’s best to wash your hands after handling them.
Yes. Cuban tree frogs are invasive in locations other than their native habitats. This includes in the UK and the US, where they can be found in Florida and a handful of other states.
Cuban tree frogs are a fun pet to have. Although they can’t be held and cuddled the way dogs, cats, and other furry creatures can, they bring their own amazing qualities to the pet trade.
They are easy to care for, good eaters and can live in groups, which makes observing their behavior that much more interesting.
As long as you aren’t squeamish when it comes to feeding your new frog live insects and you have a good grasp of their general care requirements (heat, light, etc.), you should have no problems providing optimal care to your frog.
For reflection and guidance, this article is a great place to start. We’ve gone over everything from details about their behavior, breeding, and diet, to what factors should be included in an enclosure and how large said enclosure should be.
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