All sorts of weird and wonderful creatures can be found in public parks. While the National Park Service issues warnings to refrain from interacting with all the species they deem dangerous, it seems they left an important one off the list. Yes, you guessed it, toads. According to recent reports, it appears that the agency should never assume people will calculate risk on their own and act accordingly. On the contrary, if they're not told it's dangerous to lick a toad, why would they expect anything to go wrong? Here's why people are putting their tongues on the Sonoran Desert Toad and why the National Park Service has had to step in...
"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 National Park Service wrote on their Facebook page earlier this week. The agency warned the public that while the toad (also referred to as the Colorado River Toad) may look harmless and cute, it releases a poisonous toxin that can cause sickness to those who touch or taste it.
So what lies behind this amphibian-licking phenomenon? And how has it become so mainstream that authorities have been forced to get involved? That would be due to the overwhelming hallucinogenic aspect of this toad's mysterious secretion, referred to as 5-MeO-DMT. As news of its drug-like benefits spread, many have sought after the toad, desperate to smoke up its secretions. According to New Mexico's Department of Game & Fish, the species has now been classified as threatened due to the overwhelming amount of "collectors that want to use the animal for drug use."
With celebrities such as Mike Tyson and Hunter Biden publicizing their experiences with the drug, scientists have begun to question whether it could positively contribute to therapeutic and addiction therapies. As of now, however, 5-MeO-DMT is classified as a Schedule 1 drug. This means it is forbidden for all uses and is ripe for abusive use. Have you seen a toad and are unsure if it's the Sonoran Desert Toad? We'd say staying clear of all toads is the way to go.