National Park Service warns visitors to stop licking toad native to Arizona

Nov 8, 2022, 4:15 AM
(Facebook Photo/National Park Service)
(Facebook Photo/National Park Service)

PHOENIX — Election and pre-holiday season can be stressful, but licking toads is not the escapism the National Park Service recommends.

Last week, NPS posted on Facebook a message to visitors to stop licking the Sonoran desert toad, which is found in Arizona, New Mexico and in Mexico.

The toad secretes a liquid hallucinogenic toxin when threatened, intended to kill or incapacitate predators in the wild.

“These toads have prominent parotoid glands that secrete a potent toxin,” the post reads. “It can make you sick if you handle the frog or get the poison in your mouth. As we say with most things you come across in a national park, whether it be a banana slug, unfamiliar mushroom, or a large toad with glowing eyes in the dead of night, please refrain from licking.”

The toad is described as one of the largest in the country at nearly 7 inches long. It has smooth, olive, brown or gray skin and makes a low-pitched toot noise.

Licking the toad could cause muscle weakness, a rapid heart rate and vomiting, according to the Addiction Center. Eating it can be deadly for pets like dogs.

People have also smoked the toad’s toxin — 5-MeO-DMT — by drying it into a paste or powder for trips that distort time, vision and sound.

The toxin does not serve a defined medical purpose and has high potential for addiction, according to the Addiction Center.

The Sonoran Toad, also know as the Colorado River toad, is listed as threatened in New Mexico due to habitat loss, roadway mortalities and over collecting for drug use.

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National Park Service warns visitors to stop licking toad native to Arizona