Eleutherodactylus coqui
Puerto Rican Coqui
Subgenus: Eleutherodactylus
family: Eleutherodactylidae
subfamily: Eleutherodactylinae

© 2006 William Flaxington (1 of 10)

  hear call (948.6K WAV file)

[call details here]

Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Least Concern (LC)
NatureServe Status Use NatureServe Explorer to see status.
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None


View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.


bookcover The following account is modified from Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species, edited by Michael Lannoo (©2005 by the Regents of the University of California), used with permission of University of California Press. The book is available from UC Press.

Eleutherodactylus coqui Thomas, 1966

Margaret M. Stewart
Michael J. Lannoo

1. Historical versus Current Distribution. Coquis (Eleutherodactylus coqui) are native to Puerto Rico where they are widespread (Thomas, 1966). They were introduced into southeastern Florida and southeastern Louisiana (Schwartz and Henderson, 1991; Conant and Collins, 1998). In Florida, coquis have been documented only from Dade County (Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a). In the late 1990s, coquis and their congener, greenhouse frogs (E. planirostris), native to Cuba but successfully introduced to south Florida, were introduced into Hawaii. Coquis were likely initially transported as egg masses in the nursery trade. They are now found on the islands of Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai and continue to expand their range. In the town of Hilo, they entered via the Wal-Mart nursery (W. Mautz, R. Niino-DuPonte, personal communications). Populations there are expanding rapidly.

2. Historical versus Current Abundance. Coquis have been introduced to the United States and are limited to areas near bromeliad nurseries or greenhouses. Populations do not appear to be self-sustaining and instead may be replenished by new bromeliad shipments from Puerto Rico (Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a).

3. Life History Features. (Information comes primarily from studies at 350 m in Puerto Rico.)

A. Breeding. Reproduction is terrestrial.

i. Breeding. Coquis breed year-round, but breeding is more common during times of heat and high humidity, from late spring to early fall (Conant and Collins, 1998; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a). Females approach calling males, who then lead the females to potential nest sites where amplexus occurs (Townsend and Stewart, 1986). Fertilization is internal (Townsend et al., 1981).

ii. Breeding habitat. Males will call from open, elevated areas as well as from leaf surfaces, axils of palms, and tree trunks (Townsend, 1989).

B. Eggs.

i. Egg deposition sites. Coquis deposit eggs in partially enclosed spaces such as rolled leaves, palm fronds, and bromeliad axils, where they are guarded by the male parent (Stewart and Pough, 1983; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a).

ii. Clutch size. Clutch size varies with size of female, which varies with locality. Clutch size varies from 12–24 eggs in Florida (Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a) and averages 26 eggs at 350 m in Puerto Rico (Townsend et al., 1984).

C. Direct Development. Complete metamorphosis occurs within the egg. Young hatch as tiny froglets, 6 mm long (Townsend and Stewart, 1985).

i. Brood sites. Coquis brood in enclosed areas such as in curled, fallen leaves and rolled palm fronds (Stewart and Pough, 1983; Townsend, 1989; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a).

ii. Parental care. Following deposition, clutches are tended and protected by the male parent until hatching occurs, often extending care to several days post-hatching (Townsend et al., 1984; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a). Males will defend the eggs against conspecifics by biting, wrestling, aggressive calling, and preventing access to the nest (Townsend et al., 1984).

D. Juvenile Habitat. In their native range, juveniles tend to remain on or near litter and ground vegetation, moving higher when foraging as they age (Stewart, 1995; Beard et al., 2003).

E. Adult Habitat. In their native range of Puerto Rico, coquis are a widespread generalist species. Adults spend the day in the litter and are arboreal at night (Stewart, 1985). Those observed in Florida tend to remain from 15–220 cm (6 in–7 ft) off the ground (Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a). In Florida, coquis are limited to areas around greenhouses (Conant and Collins, 1998). During the day, coquis are found in secluded areas such as rock piles, axils of bromeliad fronds, treeholes, and under rocks or logs (Stewart, 1985). However, on rainy or overcast days coquis are sometimes active (Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a). Males are most vocal after dark on moist nights when they give their advertisement calls (Woolbright and Stewart, 1987).

F. Home Range Size. In Puerto Rico, the horizontal home range is ~5 m; the vertical range is the entire vertical spectrum of the forest; the average calling height of males is approximately 1 m off ground (Woolbright, 1985; Townsend, 1989).

G. Territories. Male coquis give warning calls to defend their calling sites or diurnal retreats, while females produce soft, rasping vocalizations to defend their feeding sites (Stewart and Rand, 1991). Males tending nests will defend the eggs against conspecifics (see “Parental care” above; Townsend et al., 1984).

H. Aestivation/Avoiding Desiccation. Aestivation does not occur. Other than nocturnality, behaviors associated with avoiding desiccation have been unreported.

I. Seasonal Migrations. None.

J. Torpor (Hibernation). None.

K. Interspecific Associations/Exclusions. Personal space increases with size. Juveniles may sit next to each other, but adults do not allow another adult close by if visible (Stewart, 1995).

L. Age/Size at Reproductive Maturity. Size is dependent on locality, with larger individuals at higher elevations. Size ranges from 2.5–5.8 cm (1–2.25 in; Schwartz and Henderson, 1991; Conant and Collins, 1998). Females are larger than males (Woolbright, 1989), and frogs may reach reproductive size in 1 yr (Stewart and Woolbright, 1996). Individuals observed in Florida tend to be small (Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a), as are lowland frogs in Puerto Rico.

M. Longevity. In nature, most do not live to the second year; the oldest individuals on record are 6 yr (Stewart and Woolbright, 1996).

N. Feeding Behavior. Coquis are dietary generalists eating a wide range of primarily invertebrates in addition to conspecific eggs (Stewart and Woolbright, 1996).

O. Predators. Eggs may be preyed upon by conspecifics, ants, snails, centipedes, and phorid flies; frogs are eaten by birds, lizards, snakes, spiders, scorpions, mongoose, and feral cats (Stewart and Woolbright, 1996).

P. Anti-Predator Mechanisms. Protection is provided primarily by cryptic colors and patterns, jumping and hiding under objects, and urination when disturbed. When attacked by crab spiders, larger frogs can kick themselves free (Formanowicz et al., 1981).

Q. Diseases. Unknown.

R. Parasites. Nematodes in lungs, intestines, and body cavity or under the skin (M.M.S., personal observations).

4. Conservation.

In Puerto Rico, coquis are widespread and abundant (Rivero, 1998). Although other species of Eleutherodactylus have declined and disappeared, we have no evidence that coquis have declined in recent years except where habitats have been destroyed ( Joglar, 1998). Most population estimates are from montane rather than lowland habitats (Fogarty and Vilella, 2001). Because the coqui is an introduced species in the United States, concerns about its conservation have not been expressed. In Hawaii, where populations are expanding rapidly, the main concerns are not conservation but how to eradicate the frogs (L. Woolbright, personal communication). It is assumed, without evidence, that the frogs compete for food with native birds.

Literature references for Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species, edited by Michael Lannoo, are here.

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