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How the Coqui Got to Hawaii

The genus name for the coqui frog, Eleutherodactylis, translates from the Latinized Greek for “free toes” alluding to the fact the toes are un-webbed.

16 species of tiny tree frogs belong to the genus Eleutherodactylis, but only one (E. coqui) is considered the “true” coqui.

Our beloved Coqui frog, the official mascot of Puerto Rico, lives in Hawaii as well. It is reported that the Coqui (pronounced Ko Kee, like the sound it makes) was accidentally transported to Hawaii in a shipment of plants, either in living or frog-egg form. The response from Hawaiians was as if the sky was falling. The mayor of Hawaii declared a state of emergency. The unique, two-toned sound of the Coqui that Puerto Ricans love so much was described as a shrill shriek and thought to run down property values. Millions of dollars have been spent over the past ten years to eradicate the Coqui on Hawaii at the same time efforts are underway in Puerto Rico to protect them. Numbers here are on the decline due to land development, fungal infections and pesticides. Despite Hawaii’s efforts, including their “frogicides”, the Coqui has spread due to lack of natural predators, like scorpions and tarantulas. Hawaiian resident, Sara Lee, on a recent visit to Vieques said of the Coquis in Hawaii, “We are getting used to them. At least they’re not poisonous – just annoying.”  Meanwhile, here in Vieques, we love the sound.  co qui! co-qui! Carry on!

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