It's a singing competition!
No, there isn't a direct translation for the sound "co-kee," but behavioral patterns have established that when a coquí sings, he announces himself and shows his territory to mate. So, forest biologists like Jessica Isle believe they express something like "here I am" or "hey female, here I am." Female coquís are not generally known to sing; the male does the mating call, and the female listens to identify "which guy sings better."
There are variations in the syllables, almost like a stutter or incomplete songs, so you might hear "co-kee. Co-co-kee. Co-co. Co-kee-kee," and more. Although you can listen to choruses of male coquís singing from dusk 'till dawn, most species prefer to sing at night. The female coquí acts like a judge in a singing competition: they are looking for energy and pitch. While singing, the male coquí is saying, "I have more territory," "I have more energy," or "I can do it better." So, males spread themselves out to minimize the competition. Studies show that the first "co" part of a call deters other males, while the "kee" part attracts the females.
Coquí all day and night…
Do you remember there are 13 species of coquí? Well, not all of them sing at the same time or in unison. Some species sing in the morning, some in the afternoon, but most sing at night. They all have their niche, and even if they sound the same to the human ear, they are not necessarily making the same noise or the same patterns.
Some coquís are patient and wait until there isn't much noise around to sing. Because, if you're going to sing, you want to be heard, right? And, the Rainforest gets loud. Choruses of coquís have registered to reach up to 96 decibels. That's as loud as a boom box, a motorcycle, or an ATV!
Did you know?
You can find coquís in humid places, but all they need to lay their eggs is ¼ cup of water, often found in bromeliads or plants with leaves in shapes that can collect water.
- The coquí eats bugs, spiders, and lizards.
- They can't bite you, so don't be afraid of them.
- They breathe through their skin, so it is not recommended to touch them.
- Coquís don't move very far. On average, they don't travel more than a few hundred meters in their life span.