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.

By Jonathan Small

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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 Leadership Network® VIP

Founder, Write About Now Media

Jonathan Small is an award-winning author, journalist, producer, and podcast host. For 25 years, he has worked as a sought-after storyteller for top media companies such as The New York Times, Hearst, Entrepreneur, and Condé Nast. He has held executive roles at Glamour, Fitness, and Entrepreneur and regularly contributes to The New York Times, TV Guide, Cosmo, Details, Maxim, and Good Housekeeping. He is the former “Jake” advice columnist for Glamour magazine and the “Guy Guru” at Cosmo.

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