Do You Speak Frog?

by Debbie Hadley on July 4, 2012

I just returned from my 9th Earthwatch expedition, Puerto Rico’s Rainforest. If you like mud, this is the expedition for you.

For the first few days of the trip, we worked with herpetologist Norman Greenhawk, who taught us quite a bit about the different species of coquí frogs. Anyone who has visited Puerto Rico is sure to be familiar with the call of the common coquí, Eleutherodactylus coquíko KEE, ko KEE!

Video © WILD Jersey

Only male coquís sing. Norman told us the ko part of the call is a warning to other males in the area. This is my turf! Go away! The KEE bit is the coquí’s courtship song. Hey ladies, I’m over here! In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest that females can only hear the KEE, and not the ko part of the call. A male will repeat the ko warning several times, should a competing male intrude on his turf – ko ko ko KEE! Likewise, if he’s making progress with a desirable lady frog, you might hear a celebratory ko KEE KEE KEE!

My first few nights in the rainforest, it sounded like a million frogs were calling at once. At times, it was deafening. But as I learned more about each kind of coquí, I found I could lie in my tent at night and pick out individual frog calls, and even make some educated guesses about what was happening around me in the forest.

Aww, that little guy just found a girlfriend!




Sallie July 4, 2012 at 11:51 pm

What a sweet ending. I like that story. That should be a children’s book!

Sallie July 4, 2012 at 11:59 pm

You could put a push button or one of those square things that work with a phone so the kids could hear the sound. Better with the video. It’s so cute.

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