Big Sound on the Big Island: Coqui Frogs

While the Coqui frog is lionized in its native Puerto Rico as the unofficial National animal, the diminutive frog is the scourge of the Hawaiian Islands!

There are 16 species of Coqui frogs whose common name is onomatopoeically named for their loud mating calls: “Ko-kee”. This small tree frog is about the size of a penny (15-80 mm). But they have a very big voice.

Their calls can reach 100 decibels. To put that in some context, that’s louder than most power tools, dishwashers, food blenders, or a diesel locomotive from 100 feet away. And their calls are slightly less louder than your average rock concert.

On the Hawaiian Islands this frog is an invasive species. It was unintentionally introduced in the late 1980s through imported nursery plants. The frog competes with native species for food (mainly insects) and they have no natural predators (the Indian mongoose does not climb trees) so in some parts of the islands they have reached levels of 2,000 frogs per acre!

The Coqui frog, along with the common myna, finds itself on the IUCN’s list of the 100 of the World’s Worst invasive Alien Species. While they are harmful to native wildlife, they are they harbingers of many a sleepless night.

On the Kona side I had no problems with Coquis and it wasn’t until I was on the windward side and specifically the town of Hilo where I encountered their dubious reputation.

And they are notorious around the Dolphin Bay Hotel. This Hilo mainstay is a wonderful family run hotel just across the Waikuku River from the historic downtown. The staff are friendly and informative and the rooms are a pleasant throwback to another era (it was built in 1968).

But what is not so pleasant is the incessant chorus of frogs from dusk to dawn. Shutting all the windows and blasting the fan can’t completely cover the frogs! So I used one of the traveler’s best tools: earplugs.

The Dolphin Bay Hotel provides complementary earplugs.

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