Description: Greenhouse frogs are very tiny frogs at only
12-30 mm (0.5-1.2 in) in length. The background color is typically
brown, reddish-brown, or bronze. They have two pattern phases:
mottled with dark and light markings, often with faint chevron-shaped
bands on the back and between the eyes, and striped with two light
longitudinal stripes on the back. The eyes are red, the belly
is gray or white with the occasional dark spot, and there is no
webbing between the toes.
Distribution and Habitat: This species of frog is native
to Cuba, the Bahamas, and possibly other islands in the West Indies.
It likely made its way from Cuba to Florida and Georgia as a stowaway
in tropical plant shipments. Greenhouse frogs are widespread in
Florida and have additionally been introduced in Jamaica, the
Cayman Islands, some of the Bahamas, and in the area around Veracruz,
Mexico. There are isolated records in the Florida panhandle, New
Orleans, Louisiana, southern Alabama, and coastal and southern
Georgia. They occur in both residential areas and in a wide range
of natural terrestrial habitats. Greenhouse frogs aren't big climbers;
they prefer to remain close to the ground in warm, humid areas
with moist ground cover and other suitable hiding places.
Reproduction and Development: Breeding in greenhouse frogs
occurs during spring and summer (May-September) in northern Florida)
in damp clumps of vegetation, under debris, in leaf litter, and
in the soil of potted plants. The mating season is shortened at
both ends in higher latitudes. Males usually only call on rainy
nights, although their call can also be triggered by sprinklers.
Their voice consists of a series of short, bird-like chirps, with
an average of 4-6 in a series. This species is one of only two
east of Texas that lay their eggs on land. Approximately 20 eggs
are deposited under damp vegetation or debris, and the female
frequently remains to watch after them. The eggs hatch directly
into froglets about two weeks after they are laid- there is no
tadpole stage. The young emerge with a small tail nub and are
less than ¼ inch long. Sexual maturity is reached within
Habits: A terrestrial species, the greenhouse frog is
most active at night, during or just following rain. During the
day or a dry spell, they seek the shelter of boards, leaves, logs,
trash, or other debris where there is moisture. They are also
found in gardens, greenhouses, dumps, hardwood hammocks, gopher
tortoise burrows, and small stream valleys. Although the home
range size is unknown, this species disperses with ease and is
quite abundant in certain locations. Individuals travel from one
area to the next via potted plants, gardening supplies, and other
household items. The diet of greenhouse frogs consists of small
invertebrates such as ants, beetles, spiders, earthworms, and
mites. Known predators include the invasive Cuban treefrogs and
ringneck snakes, though other species of snakes, frogs, and birds
also likely prey upon these frogs.
Conservation: While the greenhouse frog seems relatively
harmless in comparison to other nonnative species, competition
with native amphibians or small reptiles for insects may occur.
They could also adversely affect the diversity of indigenous insects.
It is clear that the primary conservation concern with this species
lies with how quickly it disperses as a result of human activities
and its effect on native species where large populations have
Conant, Roger, and Joseph T. Collins. A Field Guide to Reptiles
& Amphibians: Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin, 1998.
Dorcas, Mike, and Whit Gibbons. Frogs and Toads of the Southeast.
Athens: University of Georgia, 2008.
Jensen, John B., Carlos D. Camp, Whit Gibbons, and Matt J. Elliott.
Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia. Athens: University of Georgia,
Account Author: Lindsay Partymiller