Hawaii Biological Survey's


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10. Coqui

The coqui frog, which has the almost unpronounceable scientific name of Eleutherodactylus coqui, was introduced into Hawai‘i in the early 1990s and has wreaked havoc on residential neighborhoods and hotels ever since with its ear-piercing call at night. Truly amazing for a pint-sized little frog that is only about the size of a quarter!

The coqui frog originally made headlines in a few years ago when it was disturbing the peace and quiet of visitors’ evenings in the resort area of West Maui. It has since spread further afield and recently has been found on O‘ahu. They seem to get transported here and there accidentally through the nursery trade (hiding in bromeliads or flower pots -- after all, they are VERY tiny!). Fortunately, nurserymen are aware of the problem and are helping state and federal biologists to find ways to keep these little frogs from getting to be a bigger problem than they already are.
Coqui frogs are originally from Puerto Rico, where they are confined to the rainforests and away from urban areas. However, they seem to be quite happy to pop up anywhere they can here in Hawai‘i, often to the dismay of residents and visitors alike.

Their high decibel call of “ko - kee!” (louder than a vacuum cleaner, but slightly less than being next to the speaker at a rock concert) can easily irritate people, especially those trying to get some sleep! But even worse is the fact their populations are increasing extremely fast. Up to 8,000 of them can be found in one acre! That’s quite an unquieting chorus! The fact that they eat insects and can easily decimate some of our rare and endangered ones further compounds the problem of their being here — where they do not belong.

   Photo by Allen Allison