BioKIDS home

Kids' Inquiry of Diverse Species

Greenhouse Frog

Eleutherodactylus planirostris

What do they look like?

Greenhouse frogs have granular-skin and range in length from 12 to 30 mm. They have many colors, including brown, reddish brown, or bronze. There is a less common mottled color variant with a faint v-shaped band on the back and between the eyes. The more common form is striped, with two stripes starting at the eyes and ending at the rear of the frog. The belly is light gray or white and they have reddish eyes. Greenhouse frogs have slender fingers and toes without webbing and small toe pads. Female greenhouse frogs are always larger than males. (Jensen, et al., 2008; Olson, 2011; Somma, 2013)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • Range length
    12 to 30 mm
    0.47 to 1.18 in

Where do they live?

Greenhouse frogs are native to several Caribbean islands, including Cuba, the Caymans, and the Bahamas. From their origin in western Cuba, they have been introduced to mainland United States, Mexico, and Hawaii. They were introduced via the soil of imported tropical plants and in landscaping materials. (Heinicke, et al., 2011; Jensen, et al., 2008; Olson, et al., 2012; Somma, 2013)

What kind of habitat do they need?

Greenhouse frogs are found in areas with climates similar to that of Cuba. They are found in both residential and wild areas, but they prefer lowland areas. They are usually found on the forest floor, where they hide under logs, leaf litter, debris, and in crevices along stream banks. Because they are often found in leaf litter, they are often found in greenhouses and gardens. They tolerate dry conditions, so they are sometimes found in grasslands and scrub habitats. (Fernández, et al., 2008; Jensen, et al., 2008; Lannoo, 2005; Olson, et al., 2012; Wells, 2007)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • rivers and streams

How do they grow?

Fertilized greenhouse frog eggs hatch directly into tiny froglets after 2 weeks. Warmer temperatures lead to faster development and eggs require 100% humidity. Hatchlings are 9 to 11 mm long. They look very similar to adults. (Olson, 2011; Olson, et al., 2012)

How do they reproduce?

There is no information on the mating system of greenhouse frogs in the literature.

Greenhouse frogs breed during the spring and summer. Males call to females on humid nights. They call with soft chirps from under debris or near the ground. Females lay from 3 to 26 eggs in moist vegetation. (Jensen, et al., 2008; Kraus, et al., 1999; Lannoo, 2005; O'Neill, 2009; Olson, et al., 2012)

  • Breeding season
    Greenhouse frogs breed from April to January in Cuba and April to September in Florida.
  • Range number of offspring
    3 to 26
  • Range time to hatching
    13 to 20 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    1 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    1 years

Females invest energy into the eggs before they are fertilized but, after the eggs are laid, there is no further parental investment. (Olson, et al., 2012)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female

How long do they live?

There is no information on the lifespan or longevity of greenhouse frogs in the literature.

How do they behave?

Greenhouse frogs are nocturnal and most active during and following rains. They are especially active on warm, overcast, or rainy days. During the day, and in periods of dry weather, greenhouse frogs seek the shelter of various objects, such as moist vegetation or under the bark of trees. (Jensen, et al., 2008; Olson, 2011)

Home Range

There is no specific information on the home range of greenhouse frogs in the literature. The population density of greenhouse frogs in a Hawaiian sample was 12,522 frogs per hectare. (Meshaka, et al., 2009; Olson, 2011)

How do they communicate with each other?

Greenhouse frog males call to females to attract them for mating. They perceive light and sounds. There is no more information on communication in greenhouse frogs in the literature. (Hailman and Jaeger, 1974; Olson, et al., 2012)

What do they eat?

Greenhouse frogs eat small invertebrates, such as ants, beetles, mites, spiders, and cockroaches. (Jensen, et al., 2008; Lannoo, 2005; Olson, 2011)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Greenhouse frogs are eaten by a variety of carnivorous animals, including invertebrates, other frogs, lizards, snakes, birds, and mammals. Known predators include brown tree snakes, Cuban racers, Grand Cayman racers, Bahamian brown racers, Cuban tree frogs, and ringneck snakes. They are cryptically colored to help them avoid predators. (Jensen, et al., 2008; Olson, et al., 2012)

  • These animal colors help protect them
  • cryptic

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Greenhouse frogs have little impact on the ecosystems they have been introduced to. In Florida, However, they do compete for food with native species, such as lizards like Florida reef geckos and mole skinks. Conversely, in Hawaii, greenhouse frogs eat non-native insect species, such as Argentine ants, big-headed ants, and yellow crazy ants, that negatively affect native invertebrates. Greenhouse frogs are found in the burrows of gopher tortoises. They are also found in the same areas of leaf litter with native eastern narrow-mouthed toads.

Commensal or parasitic species (or larger taxonomic groups) that use this species as a host

Do they cause problems?

Greenhouse frogs and their eggs are often moved inadvertently in landscape materials. Nurseries must treat infested shipments with citric acid and use various control methods to reduce the number of frogs in the materials, increasing shipment costs and decreasing trade.

  • Ways that these animals might be a problem for humans
  • household pest

How do they interact with us?

Greenhouse frogs generally go unnoticed. Some residents enjoy their soft calls and purposefully move these frogs to their gardens. (Kraus, et al., 1999; Lannoo, 2005; Olson, et al., 2012; Somma, 2013)

Are they endangered?

Greenhouse frogs are not considered threatened because populations are large and found throughout a large area. Greenhouse frogs readily adapt to human disturbed habitats.

Contributors

Stephanie Cervino (author), The College of New Jersey, Keith Pecor (editor), The College of New Jersey, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

References

Christy, M., A. Savidge, G. Rodda. 2007. Multiple pathways for invasion of anurans on a Pacific island. Diversity and Distributions, 13: 598-607.

Fernández, S., F. Barcala, R. Medina, D. Ortiz, H. Núñez. 2008. . Epidemiology of asthma mortality in Cuba and its relation to climate, 1989 to 2003. MEDJCC Review, 10: 24-29.

Fuller, P. 2013. "Greenhouse Frog – Point Map" (On-line). NAS program. Accessed October 23, 2013 at http://nas2.er.usgs.gov/viewer/omap.aspx?SpeciesID=61.

Hailman, J., R. Jaeger. 1974. Phototactic responses to spectrally dominant stimuli and use of colour vision by adult anuran amphibians: a comparative study. Animal Behaviour, 22: 757-795.

Heinicke, M., L. Diaz, S. Hedges. 2011. Origin of invasive Florida frogs traced to Cuba. Biology Letters, 7: 407-410.

Jensen, J., C. Camp, W. Gibbons, M. Elliot. 2008. Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.

Kraus, F., E. Campbell, A. Allison, T. Pratt. 1999. Eleutherodactylus frog introductions to Hawaii. Herpetological Review, 30: 21-25.

Lannoo, M. 2005. Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species. Sacramento: University of California Press.

Meshaka, W., J. Boundy, A. Williams. 2009. The dispersal of the Greenhouse frog, Eleutherodactylus planirostris (Anura: Eleutherodactylidae), in Louisiana, with preliminary observations on several potential exotic colonizing species. Journal of Kansas Herpetology, 32: 12-16.

O'Neill, E. 2009. "Evolutionary Consequences of the Introduction of Eleutherodactylus coqui to Hawaii" (On-line pdf). Ph.D. Thesis. Utah State University. Accessed October 23, 2013 at http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1278&context=etd.

Olson, C. 2011. "Diet, Density, and Distribution of the Introduced Greenhouse Frog, Eleutherodactylus planirostris, on the Island of Hawaii" (On-line pdf). Ph.D. Thesis. Utah State University. Accessed October 23, 2013 at http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/etd/866/.

Olson, C., K. Beard, W. Pitt. 2012. Biology and impacts of Pacific Island invasive species. 8. Eleutherodactylus planirostris, the greenhouse frog (Anura: Eleutherodactylidae). Pacific Science, 66: 255-270.

Sin, H., K. Beard, W. Pitt. 2008. An invasive frog, Eleutherodactylus coqui, increases new leaf production and leaf litter decomposition rates through nutrient cycling in Hawaii. Biological Invasions, 10: 355-345.

Somma, L. 2013. "Eleutherodactylus planirostris" (On-line). USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Accessed October 24, 2013 at http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=61.

Wells, K. 2007. The Ecology and Behavior of Amphibians. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

 
University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

BioKIDS home  |  Questions?  |  Animal Diversity Web  |  Cybertracker Tools

Cervino, S. 2014. "Eleutherodactylus planirostris" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed October 15, 2019 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Eleutherodactylus_planirostris/

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
Copyright © 2002-2019, The Regents of the University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

University of Michigan