Eleutherodactylus p. planirostris, or more commonly the Greenhouse frog, is from the Leptodactylidae family. They were unintentionally introduced to Florida around 1875. Their numbers have continued to grow and they are now very common among South Florida with increasing inhabitants around the panhandle. Greenhouse frogs have a reddish-brown appearance with either dark blotches or 2 dark stripes down their backs.
They are relatively small in size usually growing to about an inch to and inch and a half in length. Often, the greenhouse frog is confused with cricket frogs (genus A cris). However, this type of frog has webbing between their toes which the greenhouse frog lacks. As their name describes, the greenhouse frog lives in greenhouses or lawns. They prefer a moist environment with a relatively high humidity rate which may be why they have flourished in Florida. Greenhouse frogs are a terrestrial species as well as being nocturnal.
They feed on other small invertebrates such as insects, spiders, and snails. Naturally occurring in certain Caribbean Islands such as Cuba, the Cayman Islands, and the Bahamas these frogs may have been brought to Florida by importing tropical plants from these areas. They dwell underneath leaf litter and can go undetected. A common trait that distinguishes this type of frog from others is that they lay their eggs on land rather than in water.
This is due to the fact that the greenhouse frog does not go through the tadpole stage. The infant frog is merely a smaller version on it's parents. Some major problems that this species of frog has caused in the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem include: uncontrollable density, over-consumption of prey, and a negative effect on native birds and snakes. Greenhouse frogs consume approximately 45,000 prey items per acre per night (16 million per year). This over-consumption of prey is having detrimental effects of the small invertebrate population. Spiders, snakes, and snails are being consumed far faster than they are being reproduced causing a gradual extinction of these species.
This also has an effect on native birds and snakes. If the greenhouse frogs consume all of the small invertebrates in a specific area they will slowly starve other animals that feed on the same prey. I do not think it is possible to eradicate such a thriving species of frog. However, there can be some type of prevention. All tropical plants that are imported into Florida can be thoroughly checked for the species and if found, can be properly and humanely disposed of. Another alternative is to find another animal that feeds of these frogs and introduce them into the South Florida environment.
Such animals include snakes, rats, and mongoose. The problem with this type of eradication in that these species are often unfavorable..