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.
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."
ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD!!! ??— National Park Service (@NatlParkService) November 1, 2022
The Sonoran desert toad (Bufo alvarius) is one of the largest toads found in North America, measuring nearly 7 inches (18 cm). Will it hypnotize you with its large oscillating multicolored eyes? That's just silly….MUST SHARE TOAD FACTS!!! pic.twitter.com/78GIcco7rm
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.