Common Coqui (Eng.), Coquí Común (Sp.), Eleutherodactylus coqui (Sci.), native, Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra; introduced, US Virgin Islands, Hawaii, Dominican Republic.
Photo courtesy USDA Forest Service. Information compiled by Alan Mowbray, Interpretive Media Writer, EYNF/LEF
Class-Amphibia, Order-Anura, Family-Leptodactylidae, Genus-Eleutherodactylus, Species-coqui. Eleutherodactylus coqui is a tiny frog native to the islands of Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra. The Common Coqui gets its name from the unique nightime calling sound (ko-kee) made by the male of the species. It is the most abundant frog species in Puerto Rico with densities estimated at 20,000 individuals per Hectare. E. coqui is now an important symbol of Puerto Rico's culture; it has become the unofficial “mascot” of the island’s people.
E. coqui can be easily recognized by its uniform color: mottled or freckled brown or grayish-brown. It may have a “W” shaped marking behind the nape of the neck, a chevron at the middle of the back and an externally concave line on each side. The thighs of E. coqui are generally a slightly darker shade of brown than the body and may have yellow-green mottling. Mature males average 1.3 inches (34 millimeters, while mature females average 1.6 inches (41 millimeters) ) in snout to vent length. The size differential between genders is believed to be related to the additional energy consumption of males during breeding activity. Like most Eleutherodactylus species, E. coqui has disks and pads at the tips of the toes and fingers which are web-less.
The Common Coqui is a generally nocturnal predator. Diet varies depending on individual age and size but is primarily composed of arthropods (insects, crustaceans, arachnids). Young coquis consume smaller prey such as ants while adults consume a more varied diet that includes spiders, moths, crickets, snails and even smaller frogs. The male’s call is a loud “Ko-Kee” repeated frequently (CLICK HERE to hear recording)
They reproduce over the entire year but breeding activity peaks around the wet season. Females usually lay a “clutch” of 16 to 40 eggs from 4 to 6 times each year at roughly 8-week intervals. Eggs are guarded from predators such as snakes and snails, by males. The gestation period is from 17 to 26 days. E. coqui young reach maturity at approximately eight months.
Unlike many frog species that lay their eggs in water, coquís lay their eggs on the leaves of terrestrial trees or plants as well as in abandoned bird nests. Thus E.coqui reproduces without a direct dependency on water. Since eggs are laid on land, limbs are developed within the egg, rather than metamorphizing as larva in water. As the egg hatches, a fully formed froglet emerges; it has a small tail that is soon lost.
E. coqui is considered a habitat generalist, occurring in a wide range of habitats including mesic broad forests, mountains and in urban areas. It is found in epiphytic bromeliads, tree holes, and under rocks. Since the Common Coqui does not require a body of water to reproduce it is found at most altitudes where there is sufficient moisture for survival. On Puerto Rico and the offshore islands of Vieques and Culebra, they are found from sea level to a maximum of 3,900 feet (1,200 meters) while in Hawaii, where they were accidentally introduced as “hitchhikers” on imported plants, they have been found at a maximum of 3,800 feet (1,170 meters) elevation. Adults are generally found at higher altitudes than are juveniles.
Where to look for this animal in the EYNF
During the day, in bromeliads and under leaf litter near nature trails and visitor centers in the forest’s recreational area; in the early evening and just before dawn, listen to the males calling to prospective mates from tree limbs.
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