A coqui is a tiny tree frog that lives only in Puerto Rico. There are 16 species of coquis. Of those, coquis, 13 of these live in El Yunque, and 11 of these live only in Puerto Rico. The Burrow Coqui, el Coquí Duende, can be found only in the Dwarf Forest of El Yunque. Coquis vary in color from green to yellow to gray to brown. They range in size from 15 mm in length, such as the tiny Burrow Coqui, to 80 mm in length, such as the Web-footed Coqui.
Sadly, three of the 16 species of the coquis in Puerto Rico are highly endangered. The Web-footed Coqui, el Coquí Palmeado, and the Mottled Coqui, el Coquí Eneida, are classified as threatened in Puerto Rico. El Coquí Dorado is the most endangered of the three.
Unlike most other frogs, coquis do not turn into tadpoles before they become adult frogs. The female lays about 28 eggs, and in at least five of the species, the male broods and guards the eggs, aggressively forcing the female away soon after laying. When the eggs hatch, out come tiny froglets that look like tiny versions of their parents.
Although the name "coqui" refers to all 16 species, only two coqui species produce the sound "co-kee." They are the Forest Coqui (el Coquí de la Montaña) and the Common Coqui (el Coquí Común). Each species has a characteristic call. Coquis call out to protect their territories. They have three types of territories: feeding, mating, and shelter. The loudest calls are emitted by the male coquis defending their mating territory. As soon as the sun sets, year around, you can hear the enchanting melody of the coquis in the fields or the forests or even in people's yards. The song of coqui is as familiar to the children of Puerto Rico as the chirp of crickets is to children round the world on warm summer nights.
If you would like to find out more about the native animals and trees of El Yunque, write to the Caribbean National Forest, P.O. Box B, Palmer, Puerto Rico, 00721.
Copyright © 2011 by Marisa Montes. All rights reserved.