A toxic and invasive tree frog is getting its 15 minutes of fame after it hitched a ride in a car from Florida to North Carolina.
The BeWild Reptile Rescue shared the story on Facebook on Oct. 17, and the organization hopes the “stowaway” can help teach the public about invasive threats for years to come.
“This tiny froglet was found hitchhiking in someone’s car who had come up from Florida,” the nonprofit wrote.
Apparently, the seemingly innocent and adorable reptile is a Cuban tree frog, which is not just invasive but also illegal to own in North Carolina.
The Invasive Creature Made its Way to The US on in Cargo Containers
The species can be gray, green, white, or brown and can change colors on a whim. They’re native to Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Cayman Islands. But sometime in the 1920s, the frogs made their way to Florida, where they continue to wreak havoc on the ecosystem. Specialists believe they got to the United States via cargo containers on shipping vessels.
Cuban tree frogs eat several different types of frogs that are native to the Sunshine State. They also make their way into homes and, because of their large size, they can clog sinks and toilets. The University of Florida says that the animal has been known to knock out power in cities by short-circuiting utility switches.
BeWild also noted that “Cuban tree frogs are also very toxic so they pose a danger to pets in the wild.” However, they’re not deadly to most animals. And while they can cause skin irritation in some, they are generally harmless to humans.
North Carolina Reptile Rescue Will Keep the Cuban Tree Frog for Educational Purposes
The reptile rescue didn’t note how the frog managed to hide in a car for hours on end. But the alleged driver commented saying that she had made a “pit stop” at one point. And when she got back into her car, “he started hopping around” on her dash.
In most cases, the government would euthanize an invasive animal. But the non-profit applied for an “educational permit” to spare the animal and also help teach locals about the dangers of non-native species.
“Right now he only weighs about a third of a gram!” the organization added. “We have him set up in a temporary enclosure and are ordering some pinhead crickets tonight. Hopefully, this little frog can help us teach about invasive species while remaining safely in captivity!”