People Keep Licking a Rare Toad in U.S. National Parks. The Reason Is a Real Trip.

The venom of the Colorado River Toad is a hot item in the Sonora Desert, but the National Park Service wants the love to stop.

learn more about Jonathan Small

By Jonathan Small • Nov 10, 2022

Visitors to national parks in the southwest keep kissing frogs, but they're not hoping they'll turn into a prince.

The rare Sonoran desert toad, also known as the Colorado river toad, naturally secretes a strong hallucinogenic venom called Bufotenin, which is four to six times more potent than DMT.

Licking the frogs can produce a short but intense psychedelic trip that lasts around 30 minutes.

But the frog secretions can also be quite dangerous, leading the National Park Service to post a warning on their Facebook page to stay away from the frogs.

"These toads have prominent parotoid glands that secrete a potent toxin," the service wrote. "It can make you sick if you handle the frog or get the poison in your mouth. As we say with most things you come across in a national park, whether it be a banana slug, an unfamiliar mushroom, or a large toad with glowing eyes in the dead of night, please refrain from licking."

Toad venom is all the rage

The rare toad venom has become all the rage among celebrities such as Mike Tyson, Chelsea Handler, and Hunter Biden.

"I died during my first trip," Tyson told The New York Post. "In my trips, I've seen that death is beautiful. Life and death both have to be beautiful, but death has a bad rep. The toad has taught me that I'm not going to be here forever. There's an expiration date."

The toad venom has been used in rituals for its healing properties for thousands of years, but it only recently became mainstream in the last ten years.

Now vacationers go on retreats to sample the rare toad venom.

"People pay anywhere from $250 for a ceremony in the East Texas woods to $8,500 for a more gilded beachfront setting in Tulum, Mexico, to consume the toxin," according to The New York Times.

Or they can go to a national park in the U.S. Southwest and try to lick a frog for free.

Jonathan Small

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief of Green Entrepreneur

Jonathan Small is editor-in-chief of Green Entrepreneur, a vertical from Entrepreneur Media focused on the intersection of sustainability and business. He is also an award-winning journalist, producer, and podcast host of the upcoming True Crime series, Dirty Money, and Write About Now podcasts. Jonathan is the founder of Strike Fire Productions, a premium podcast production company. He had held editing positions at Glamour, Stuff, Fitness, and Twist Magazines. His stories have appeared in The New York Times, TV Guide, Cosmo, Details, and Good Housekeeping. Previously, Jonathan served as VP of Content for the GSN (the Game Show Network), where he produced original digital video series.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Have More Responsibilities at Work, But No Pay Bump? Use This Script to Get the Raise You Deserve.
Black and Asian Founders Face Opposition at All Levels — Here's Why That Has to Change
Business News

Frontier Airlines Just Announced Its All-You-Can-Fly Summer Pass for $399. What's the Catch?

As travel begins to pick up, the airline hopes unlimited travel will jumpstart its business.

Marketing

What Millennials Really Think About Product Life Cycle, As Told By A Millennial.

Millennials have come into significant purchasing power, and I know how you can capitalize on that.

Growing a Business

3 Ways to Grow a Multi-Million Dollar Drop Shipping Business

Begin with these drop shipping basics and everything will soon fall into place.

Money & Finance

How NFTs Work — and How They Could Prove Profitable for Your Business

NFTs seem to be all the rage these days, but can they actually work for most businesses?

Thought Leaders

5 Small Daily Habits Self-Made Millionaires Use to Grow Their Wealth

We've all seen what self-made millionaires look like on TV, but it's a lot more subtle than that. Brian Tracy researched what small daily habits these successful entrepreneurs adopted on their journey from rags to riches.