The National Park Service asked the public not to lick toads, specifically the Sonoran desert toad, which reportedly "secretes a toxin unlike any other found on the planet."
A portion of the NPS statement reads: "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."
According to The New York Times, opinions vary on the danger of licking the Sonoran desert toad: Some believe the toxin serves as a hallucinogenic — eliciting one comparison to a "God molecule" — while others see it as a "dangerous poison" that can lead to illness, or even death, when exposed to the toxin in large quantities.
On its Facebook account, the Park Service also took a humorous approach to promoting its serious message: "Well that's toad-ally terrifying ... (toad emoji) ... Hey there! Here is the 'ribbiting' late night content no one asked for. Yet here we are. The Sonoran desert toad (Bufo alvarius), also known as the Colorado river toad, is one of the largest toads found in North America, measuring nearly 7 inches (18 cm).
"What sound does it make? Its call has been described as a 'weak, low-pitched toot, lasting less than a second.' Was that the toad or did something startle you?
"These toads have prominent parotoid glands that secrete a potent toxin. It can make you sick if you handle the frog or get the poison in your mouth. ... Thank you. Toot!"
The Times reports the demand for the Sonoran toad secretion has "boomed" in recent years, among those pursuing more "intense" psychedelic experiences.
In fact, the Times says that some adventure-seekers hold toad-licking ceremonies, with the participants "paying hundreds or thousands of dollars" just to lick the Sonoran toad — which then leads into a mind-bending experience for as long as 30 minutes.
The Times also speculated that it's more advantageous to have the Sonoran toad anxious and agitated, since it excretes a "5-MeO-DMT" when threatened, which can subsequently be dried into crystals and smoked in a pipe.
The smoking part of the toad secretion involves a process with the slang terms of "Five" or "Bufo," according to reports.
It's illegal to smoke toad excretions in the United States, since it would be classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, writes the Times.
It's legal in Mexico.
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