PSA: U.S. National Park Service warns visitors not to lick psychedelic toads to get high

It may sound absurd, but the U.S. National Park Service is reminding people not to lick — yes, lick — the Sonoran desert toad.

It’s not entirely clear what prompted the warning, but the park service recently took to social media to remind people to steer clear of the amphibian.

“Here is the ‘ribbiting’ late night content no one asked for. Yet here we are,” the park service wrote in a Facebook post.

The critter, also known as the Colorado River toad, is one of the largest toads found on the continent measuring nearly 18 centimetres (7 inches) in length and has a very particular set of skills.

“These toads have prominent parotid glands that secrete a potent toxin,” the park service explained. “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.”

Kissing one won’t bring you a prince, but some people think if they can experience hallucinations and euphoria by ingesting or smoking the toad’s toxin as a psychedelic.

Officials and experts say that’s a bad idea.

The Oakland Zoo offered this warning:

“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. It is illegal to have the poison from the toad, called bufotenin, in your possession in the state of California.”

The park service also shared some other fascinating Sonora desert toad facts, including what it sounds like.

“Its call has been described as a ‘weak, low-pitched toot, lasting less than a second.’ Was that the toad or did something startle you?” the park service joked.

“ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD,” the park service tooted, er, tweeted.

The photo is shared was captured by motion sensor camera at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona

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