National Park Service urges visitors not to lick toxic psychedelic toads

While some may be tempted to offer the Sonoran Desert toad a kiss, the National Park Service urged visitors to leave the potentially deadly amphibians alone.

The agency warned visitors on Facebook last week against licking the toads if they stumble across them. It's unclear whether a specific instance prompted the advisory, but "here we are," the National Park Service wrote.

"These toads have prominent parotoid glands that secrete a potent toxin," the post said. "It can make you sick if you handle the frog or get the poison in your mouth."

It might appear strange that anyone would be tempted to lick an amphibian outside of a fairy tale, but this particular toad has been in high demand, according to a New York Times report this year.

People have exploited the toad's toxin as psychedelic, smoking it to experience euphoria and hallucinations, according to the Oakland Zoo.

The toxin is a defensive measure from the toad, and it can be deadly to other animals, including dogs, according to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

The Sonoran Desert toad, also referred to as the Colorado River toad, is one of the largest toads native to North America, measuring about 7 inches long, the National Park Service said.

Robert Villa, the president of the Tucson Herpetological Society, told The Times that so many humans’ taking the toads out of their habitats may put the toads at risk of population decline and extinction.

One of the chemicals found in the toad's skin, bufotenin, is illegal to possess in California, but in neighboring Arizona, one can legally capture up to 10 toads with the proper license, according to the Oakland Zoo. People might still be at risk of criminal charges if they intends to capture the toads to smoke their toxins, the zoo warned.

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