National Park Service Says to Stop Licking These Toxic Toads

The Sonoran Desert toad is known to secrete a potent toxin.

The National Park Service is asking people to stop licking the Sonoran Desert toad, which are known to secrete a potent toxin. 

The toads, which are also known as the Colorado River toad and are one of the largest toads native to North America, have parotoid glands behind each eye and several large warts on their hind legs, according to the NPS. When disturbed, they secrete toxins as a defense.

This toxin can make humans sick if they handle the frog or get the poison in their mouth, the NPS warned. But smoking the toad’s toxin can act as a powerful psychoactive, according to the Oakland Zoo, resulting in “a warm sensation, euphoria and strong auditory hallucinations.”

“Well that’s toad-ally terrifying…” the NPS wrote in a recent Facebook post. “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 post accompanied a photo of a motion sensor camera capture of a Sonoran Desert toad “staring into your soul” at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona.

The Sonoran Desert toad lives in a variety of habitats, according to the Oakland Zoo, including desert scrub, grasslands, oak-pine woodlands, thornscrub, and tropical deciduous forests. They are often found near springs, reservoirs, and streams, and can be seen in southern Colorado, Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, southeastern California, and more.

They are solitary animals and eat insects, spiders, beetles, grasshoppers, lizards, rodents, and other toads.

While the NPS doesn’t typically have to warn travelers against licking animals found in the wild, the park service does tell travelers to give wildlife plenty of room. In fact, many parks require travelers to stay at least 25 yards away from most wildlife and 100 yards away from predators like bears and wolves.

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