The National Park Service has warned people not to the lick large toxin-secreting toads.
“These toads have prominent parotoid glands that secrete a potent toxin. 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, unfamiliar mushroom, or a large toad with glowing eyes in the dead of night, please refrain from licking. Thank you,” the NPS declared in a Facebook post last week.
The creatures, known as Sonoran Desert toads or Colorado River toads, secrete toxins that can be deadly to dogs — but some people seek out the toad’s secretions to use as a psychedelic.
“The toad’s toxins are very dangerous — particularly for animals — the toxins emitted by one toad can be enough to kill a fully grown dog. Humans have exploited this harmful toxin as a psychedelic,” according to the Oakland Zoo.
Earlier this year, the New York Times reported about this use of the toad’s toxin by humans — people can pay for experiences with the psychedelic.
“We’re a church, and this is sacred medicine,” Universal Shamans of the New Tomorrow founder Brooke Tarrer said, according to the Times, which reported that the church located in the Lone Star State charges $250 for toad ceremonies.
“They will foam at the mouth, and their eyes will roll to the back of their head,” said Bernice Anderson, an individual who uses the Mayan name Ixca and offers $1,100 retreats in the state of Utah, according to the outlet. “It’s at that point where the shamanic experience comes in. This is something that has to be carried out very carefully.”