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Two Male Coqui Frogs Found in Guam
by Katie Worth, Pacific Daily News
Reprinted from Herp Digest, Vol.4, No.26, February 28, 2004.
Time to get out your earplugs -- Guam's quiet nights might be shattered soon. Department of Agriculture officials found two coqui frogs on the island last week, marking the first time the tiny frogs have been discovered on Guam. Coqui frogs are named after their unmistakable nocturnal love song -- ko-KEEE, which is measured at up to 90 decibels, about the strength of a lawn mower, and just short of a car alarm. An individual frog chirp is tolerable, but when they form a chorus, it can become unbearable to sensitive ears.
The frogs, originally from the Caribbean, have thrived in Hawaii and have been reported to have destroyed business for some Hawaiian hotels, forcing visitors to seek out hotels that have better sound barriers or other defense against the screeches of the frogs. And now, the coquis are on Guam.
Department of Agriculture wildlife biologist Diane Vice said agriculture officials caught two male coqui frogs on Guam last week, one in Manenggon Hills and another at a local nursery in Tumon. Both of the frogs were found near businesses that bring in large numbers of ornamental plants from Hawaii, and Vice suspected the frogs simply stowed away on one of those. It is quite possible there are more coquis on the island and that they could multiply quickly, Vice said. She said that only male coquis chirp, but the females are quiet and therefore much more difficult to catch.
The quarter-sized coquis and their quieter cousins, the greenhouse frogs, which also recently immigrated to Guam from Hawaii, could be the cause of a resurgence of brown tree snakes as well, said Vice, by providing a food source to small snakes, which she said could lead to more power outages and a plethora of other environmental problems. But the agriculture department is not standing by idly, she said. Vice said the department is developing new import and export policies in hopes of preventing more frogs from coming to the island. She said that if caught early, and with the help of an alert public with perked ears, there may be a way to eradicate the frogs before they get out of control. She said the agency is asking for the public's help to inform the agriculture department if any more frogs are seen or heard.
"This is a serious threat to our tourism economy if these frogs establish in large numbers," Vice said. "If they do establish, island life on Guam will change as we know it."
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