Puerto Rican Coqui
Scientific Name: Eleutherodactylus coqui
Description: The Puerto Rican coquí (pronounced ko-kee) is a small tree frog that is brown, yellow, or green in color. Their scientific genus name Eleutherodactylus means “free toes,” because unlike many frogs, they don’t have webbed feet. They have special disks, or toe pads, on their feet that allow them climb up vertical structures and cling to trees and leaves.
Size: Puerto Rican coquís are 1 to 2 inches long and weigh 2 to 4 ounces. They are one of the largest frogs found in Puerto Rico.
Diet: Mostly arthropods, but they have been observed eating small frogs and lizards.
Predation: Unprotected eggs are eaten by flies. Juvenile and adult coquís are targeted by giant crab spiders, snakes, and birds.
Typical Lifespan: Over 90 percent of adults don’t live longer than a year, although some 6 year old wild coquís have been found.
Habitat: Puerto Rican coquís utilize a variety of habitats, including forests, gardens, greenhouses, and under rocks and logs. Most spend their nights in the forest canopy and retreat to shelter on the ground at dawn.
Range: As their name suggests, the Puerto Rican coquí is native to the forests of Puerto Rico, but they’ve also been introduced to the U.S. Virgin Islands, where they exist relatively peacefully. They’ve been introduced to Hawaii where they are considered a pest species, because they consume native insects and their deafening choruses are irritating to people who aren’t used to them. Small numbers of Puerto Rican coquís are found in Florida greenhouses. At one point, they were considered an exotic species in Louisiana and Massachusetts, but these occurrences were based only on a few individuals living in greenhouses.
Life History and Reproduction: The term coquí refers to the sound of the call produced by male coquís to attract females and repel other males during mating season. Breeding occurs throughout the year, but especially during the wet season (April to October). Unlike most frogs, the Puerto Rican coquí does not have a tadpole stage. Instead, tiny frogs with short tails emerge from the eggs. Males stay with the eggs until several days after they hatch to protect them from predators and prevent desiccation. The eggs become unviable if they dry out, so the father frog diligently provides them with water via contact with his moist skin.
Fun Fact: Choruses of male coquís, which are beloved throughout Puerto Rico, can be heard from dusk until dawn all over the island.
Conservation Status: Lowland populations are stable, but coquí numbers may be declining in the Palo Colorado Forest of Puerto Rico due to fungal disease.
Welcome to Puerto Rico
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species
Hawaii Department of Agriculture