Greenhouse frog (Eleutherodactylus planirostris)
|Also known as:||green-house frog|
|Size||Length: up to 3.6 cm (2)|
The greenhouse frog is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).
A small- to medium-sized, rather non-descript amphibian, the greenhouse frog (Eleutherodactylus planirostris) is patterned with patches of brown and tan on the upperparts and white on the underparts. This frog occurs in two morphs, being covered in either light, longitudinal stripes or a mottled colouration of irregular pale and dark patches. Both morphs have deep orange lower upperparts and dark brown eyes with gold flecks. The greenhouse frog has unwebbed feet with moderately-sized adhesive discs on the ends of the digits (2) (3) (4).
There are currently four recognised subspecies of the greenhouse frog: Eleutherodactylus planirostris planirostris, Eleutherodactylus planirostris casparii, Eleutherodactylus planirostris goini and Eleutherodactylus planirostris rogersi. These are distinguished primarily by their separate distributions (2).
The greenhouse frog is native to the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands and Cuba, and has been introduced to Jamaica, Guam, and parts of the USA, including Florida and Hawaii (1).
Living in forests, grasslands, caves, and urban areas, including plantations and gardens, the greenhouse frog is terrestrial (1). It is typically found in vegetation, such as grass and palm fronds, under logs, and amongst leaf litter, and occurs from sea level to elevations of around 727 metres (1) (2).
Breeding from May to September, the male greenhouse frog typically spends wet, warm, humid nights calling from flower beds and leaf litter to attract females, using a soft chirping call that has been likened to a tiny bell (2) (4). The female greenhouse frog lays between 2 and 26 eggs in moist depressions in the earth, or in damp debris covered by damp vegetation. After a development period of only 13 days, the young hatch as miniature frogs, bypassing the tadpole stage with no need of parental care in a process known as direct development. The greenhouse frog lays eggs more often after large storms, possibly due to an increase in suitable egg-laying sites (3) (4).
The greenhouse frog is nocturnal and feeds on arthropods such as ants, beetles and spiders (2) (3) (4).
Lacking any major threats to its survival, the greenhouse frog is common throughout its range and its populations are thought to be stable (1). It has been introduced into several countries via the transport of plants carrying the species, and has also been introduced into urban gardens because of its appealing call. Within its introduced range, the lack of disease and natural predators has meant that the greenhouse frog has rapidly increased in number and is now a threat to native frog and invertebrate species. Predation by this frog could have devastating effects on rare native fauna, meaning control measures may have to be implemented (3).
Although there are currently no conservation measures targeting the greenhouse frog, it occurs in many protected areas (1). For the benefit of other species, strict controls must be put into place to prevent the introduction of the greenhouse frog into countries outside of its natural range (3).
For more information on amphibian conservation, see:
IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group:
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- Arthropods: a very diverse phylum (a major grouping of animals) that includes crustaceans, insects and arachnids. All arthropods have paired jointed limbs and a hard external skeleton (exoskeleton).
- Invertebrates: animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones), echinoderms, and others.
- Morph: one of two or more distinct types of a given species, often distinct colour forms, which occur in the same population at the same time (that is, are not geographical or seasonal variations).
- Nocturnal: active at night.
- Subspecies: a population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
IUCN Red List (October, 2010)
- Schwartz, A. and Henderson, R.W. (1991) Amphibians and Reptiles of the West Indies: Descriptions, Distributions, and Natural History. University of Florida Press, Florida, USA.
Global Invasive Species Database – Greenhouse frog (October, 2010)
AmphibiaWeb – Greenhouse frog (October, 2010)