National Park Service Warns Parkgoers About Licking Psychedelic Toads

by Taylor Cunningham
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The National Park Service is reminding parkgoers that, no matter how tempting it may be, do not lick the psychedelic Sonoran desert toad. The amphibians live in the Southwestern United States and also in parts of Mexico. And sometimes people make the bad decision to lick them because they have “prominent parotoid glands that secrete a potent toxin.”

That toxin is used in both legal and illegal drugs. Namely, when smoked, it causes a psychedelic experience. That alone has led to some unfounded curiosity about just ingesting it in its pure form. But doing so could lead to a deadly situation, literally.

So, NPS posted a warning to inform people about the dangers of the seemingly innocent-looking animal.

“Well that’s toad-ally terrifying….” the service wrote in a Facebook post last week. “Hey there! Here is the “ribbiting” late-night content no one asked for. Yet here we are.”

One Lick of the Psychedelic Toad Can Kill a Fully-Grown Dog

The post explains that the Sonoran desert toad, also called the Colorado river toad, grows to be almost 7 inches, which makes it “one of the largest toads found in North America.”

The creature has some interesting qualities that can help people identify it. For example, it makes a “weak, low-pitched toot” that lasts less than one second. It also has a uniform greenish-gray coloring over its upper body and a milky white belly.

They mostly mind their own business and live near waterways where they feast on insects, mice, and other toads. But if you come across one and so much as touch it, you can get horribly ill. And ingesting the substance would give you a mega dose that would cause—at best—a serious, life-threatening condition. And at worst, it could kill you. The toxin is also highly addictive. So just don’t mess with it.

Furthermore, the psychedelic toad is dangerous for other animals as well, including dogs and cats. The toxin is actually meant to kill would-be predators. And one dose of it can paralyze or take down a fully grown dog, according to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. So keep an eye on your four-legged friends if they go on hikes with you or wander around near bodies of water.

“As we say with most things you come across in a national park,” the post adds, “whether it be a banana slug, unfamiliar mushroom, or a large toad with glowing eyes in the dead of night, please refrain from licking. Thank you. Toot!”