RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — While the average person has probably never thought, “I think I want to put this in my mouth” when they see a toad, the National Park Service is warning anyone who might, they shouldn’t.
The park service warns explicitly against the licking of one of the largest toads found in North America, the Sonoran Desert Toad, also known as the Colorado River Toad. When threatened, these toads secrete a potent toxin, including a psychedelic substance known as 5-MeO-DMT that can be dried and smoked.
Intended as a defense mechanism, the toxin excreted by the toad can make people and animals sick if the poison is handled or gets in the mouth, according to the National Park Service. The toxin can even be deadly. Although one study done by John Hopkins found the substance found in the toxin, 5-MeO-DMT, could improve symptoms of “depression and anxiety when given in a ceremonial group setting.”
In a study of 362 adults, John Hopkins researchers found around 80% of respondents reported their anxiety and depression symptoms had improved after using 5-MeO-DMT, which typically lasts from 30 to 90 minutes. It is also classified as a Schedule I drug of the Controlled Substances Act, and is illegal in the United States.
In any event, licking the toad with the hopes of being taken on a psychedelic journey is not recommended, as the National Park Service emphasized in its 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 National Park Service said in its recent PSA.