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National Park Service urging people not to lick toxic toads, which produce psychedelic venom

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Posted at 9:28 AM, Nov 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-08 11:28:19-05

The National Park Service is urging visitors not to lick toxic toads that can be found in its parks. The Sonoran desert toad, also known as the Colorado river toad, secretes a potent toxin that can make people sick if they handle the toad or get the poison in their mouths.

The toad, also called – Bufo alvarius, or psychedelic toad – is one of the largest in North America and is nearly 7 inches long. Its croak is a "low-pitched toot," which lasts less than a second, the National Park Service says.

"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. Thank you. Toot!" a Facebook post reads from the National Park Service.

While the service admitted in its post this is "late night content no one asked for," visitors apparently must be reminded not to lick the toad. The milky venom is poisonous and also a strong psychedelic.

Some believe psychedelics can be used to treat depression. The Bufo alvarius venom produces 5-MeO-DMT, a psychadelic that is four to six times stronger than it's relative DMT, or dimethyltryptamine, which is used in recreational drugs, according to Psychom, a publication about mental health.

However, it is also a Schedule I drug, meaning it is illegal.

The toad's venom can paralyze or even kill dogs and other predators, according to the Oakland Zoo. While humans exploit the venom as a psychedelic, it can cause irritation of the eyes and mouth of humans. Possession of the toad's venom is illegal in California, according to the zoo.

The toad is commonly found in southern Colorado, Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and southeastern California. However, it is near extinction in California and is classified as endangered in this area. It is classified as threatened in New Mexico.