Puerto Rico’s Favorite Mascot- The Coqui Frog
Coqui Frogs (Eleutherodactylus coqui) are a unique species of tree frogs found mainly on the island of Puerto Rico. There are sixteen species of Coqui Frogs, of which eleven are endemic to Puerto Rico. Thirteen of these species of frog can be found in the El Yunque National Forest, previously referred to as the Caribbean National Forest.
The tree frogs name “Coqui” comes from the melody that the male frog makes in the evening, which sounds something like: “Ko-kee… Ko-kee…”. This unique song that the male Coqui makes starts off at sunset and continues till dawn when they head back to their nests. Interestingly, there is a difference in song between the species Eleutherodactylus coqui and the Eleutherodactylus portoricensis. The coqui has a slow song while the portoricensis has a much faster pace song and a higher tone.
The two main reasons for the male Coqui’s unique song is to warn other male frogs, situated nearby, to go away as well as to entice the female Coqui for reproductive purposes. The female frog vocalizes when she wants to respond to the male Coqui’s song and when she is warning off intruders from entering into her territory.
Coquies are cold-blooded vertebrates that lack webbing between their toes and fingers. This does not prevent the Coqui frog from swimming, instead it uses pads found on the tips of their fingers and toes to help them cling to moist surfaces. The Coqui’s skin color varies from a gray-brown color to an olive green or a yellowish color. Some species have patterns on their body that are normally made up of black lines and dots. Their eyes are brown or gold and come slightly out from the socket.
The Coqui Frog is a tiny frog. The smallest example of the species is the Burrow Coqui, which is 15 mm long. The biggest is the Web-footed Coqui, which is 80 mm long. The Coqui differs from other frogs in that it does not release its eggs over water but instead finds a humid place on land. Once the female Coqui has laid her eggs the male Coqui forces her away and from then on guards and protects the eggs. The Coqui eggs do not go through a tadpole stage, but rather develop into froglets after an incubation period of 17 to 27 days.
The Golden Coqui is even more unique in that it is the only frog in the world that gives birth to its froglets. Instead of laying the eggs the female frog fertilizes them internally and gives birth to miniature replicas of the mature adult. The only difference between the adult and the froglet, besides size, is that the young Coqui has a small tail that disappears soon after birth.