Recently, the National Park Service issued an unusual caution, advising tourists not to continue licking toads.
Please don’t lick anything you find in a national park, the agency advised, “whether it be a banana slug, unfamiliar mushroom, or a large toad with glowing eyes in the dead of the night.”
The Colorado river toad, also known as the Sonoran desert toad, is expressly mentioned in a Facebook alert.
According to the organization, “These toads have prominent parotoid glands that secrete a potent toxin.” If you handle the frog or put the poison in your mouth, it could make you sick.
People still go looking for it, though, because it also secretes 5-MeO-DMT, a hallucinogen.
If they hadn't mentioned they are psychedelic, perhaps fewer people would be inclined to lick these toads…just sayin'
— Dirtbag Hiker (@DirtbagHikerBlg) November 8, 2022
The National Capital Poison Center warns that the fluids can cause significant discomfort, pain, and tissue damage in addition to potentially causing a trip. A few licks can have “severe and life-threatening effects on the heart” in addition to numbing the mouth and throat.
The organization issues the following warning: “These effects include irregular rhythm of the heart, heart block, reduced blood pressure, and cardiac arrest. These severe effects can also occur after absorption through the skin.”
According to NPR, many toad addicts smoke the excretions rather than actually licking the amphibians. In New Mexico, the toad is currently seen as being in danger, in part because of “overcollecting” by persons looking for its hallucinogenic secretions.
The toad is in danger of “population collapse,” according to a New York Times investigation from earlier this year.
Among the toad’s fans is legendary boxer Mike Tyson.
He claimed to have tried the toad as a dare when he was a “wreck,” but has since improved. “The toad’s whole purpose is to reach your highest potential,” he said to the New York Post last year.
“The toad has taught me that I’m not going to be here forever,” he added. “There’s an expiration date.”
According to the National Park Service, the toad is one of the biggest in the country and is about 7 inches long. It makes a faint, low-pitched toot that lasts less than a second.