Monday, February 21, 2011

Cuban Tree Frog Travels to Minnesota

I love my job as Communications Director for the WRC (Wildlife Rehab Center of Minnesota).  Every day it seems I learn something new. I either get to bother the vet techs until they let me peer into a microscope or I see a species that I've never seen before.

Well, courtesy of Bachman's Floral I've just seen my first Cuban Tree Frog!  It arrived with a shipment of plants from Florida so they brought it into the Center.

As you can see in the photo, this isn't a typical Minnesota tree frog. For one thing, it's BIG.

And those big, bulgy eyes? They're strong and they serve a purpose: when the frog eats a baby bird or mouse, or another "large" meal, its eyes close and recede into its head where the muscles actually help force the meal down its throat. Wow.  

I've never traveled to the Caribbean, Central/South America so to see one of these big, tropical tree frogs in person is pretty exciting!

WRC releases animals back where they were found so I offered to transport this cute guy back to Florida when I leave tomorrow morning for a week's trip. That's when we learned that as cute as he is, he isn't getting a return trip to Florida. The USFWS has posted "WANTED" posters for this frog all over Florida.

Apparently one of the Cuban Tree Frog's favorite dietary items is our very own native tree frogs, and they're doing quite a number on them in Florida. I'll admit that I laughed when I say the name of one of the methods they use to euthanize the frogs: HopStop Euthanasia Spray.

I can't help but wonder though, do Floridians really take the time to positively identify a Cuban Tree Frog  before they euthanize the frog? Apparently Cuban Tree Frogs are highly versatile in their coloring/markings, which I suspect makes them difficult to correctly ID in Florida.  Maybe their large size is the clincher? I just have a suspicion that lots of other frogs are being disposed of via freezers at the urging of the Florida USFWS. You can learn more here.

So what happens to this guy? He's lucky he made it so far north that he can't survive if he were to escape. He's been placed in a home with one of our staff who has other amphibians and reptiles.

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