Friday, December 9, 2011

Creatures small and great

Lucky little coquis. These tiny tree frogs, recently encountered (only by ear) again in Puerto Rico, are small enough to avoid the attention of humans – or mostly so, anyway.

Animals who can live on unnoticed by people are the lucky ones. They’re not hunted, eaten, used in laboratories. They can live life as they should – free and doing what comes naturally.

For coquis, the natural inclination for males is to sing from dusk to dawn, reportedly making “ko-kee” sounds. (I’ve never heard that in their sharp chirpy sounds, but nevertheless love hearing them, especially in coqui choruses.)

One of many internet sites for info on coquis,, indicates that their genera, “Eleutherodactylus,” is Greek for “free toes.” In other words, they don’t have the membrane between digits/toes common in some other amphibians.

However, the disks or pads on the tips of their toes help them adhere to such surfaces as moistened leaves. For more on coqui reproduction – for instance, how a tiny fully functional froglet emerges from a terrestrial egg – visit the site above.

Vieques, or “little girl island,” is off Puerto Rico, but, happily, it has its fair share of coquis too. That’s where I heard them last week.

While appreciating the coqui sounds after sunset, I found a wonderful distraction during the day: wild horses. The island is known for them, I don’t know since when or for how long. But it was thrilling one morning to find nine of them in front of the villa where we stayed, peacefully grazing and ignoring the two gringos exclaiming over them.

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