Please don’t lick this toad


Up for the award for the most unusual recommendation of the year: the United States National Park Service has advised visitors to “stop licking toads”.

Not just any: the toad of the rivers of Colorado (also called the toad of the Sonoran desert or, from its Latin name, Incilius alvarius). In addition to being one of the largest toads in North America – up to 18 centimeters – it is known to secrete a toxin with hallucinogenic properties. Instead, most people « consume » this toxin, or more accurately a substance it contains, once dried into crystals and smoked in a pipe. In other words, it’s a drug — illegal in several countries, including the United States.

Earlier this year, the New York Times devoted a report to him: the practice dates back decades, but the demand for this substance has recently increased, to the point where the animal is at risk of seeing its population decline.

It secretes this toxin through its paratoid glands—and in nature, the function of this toxin is not hallucinogenic, but a defense against predators.

We therefore do not speak of a « toxin » for nothing: it is a poison that can even be fatal, especially if it is ingested directly. For example, licking the toad.

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