National Park Service Warns Visitors Not To Lick Psychedelic Frog

Sonoran desert toad
National Park Service

Gotta be honest, licking a frog would never cross my mind. But now that the government’s told me not to, of course I want to try it now. (Not really).

The National Park Service has issued a warning to visitors who may be looking for an out-of-body experience about the dangers of licking the Sonoran Desert toad, also known as the Colorado River toad.

Commonly found in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States, the Colorado River toad is one of the largest in North America, growing to up to seven inches. But it’s best known for the toxins it secretes from glands just behind its eyes.

The toxin contains 5-MeO-DMT, a psychedelic substance also known as Bufo or the “God molecule” that’s typically dried into crystals and then smoked, resulting in a trip that lasts between 15 and 30 minutes. And celebrities like Joe Rogan, Mike Tyson and Chelsea Handler have even talked about their experience using the frog slime to get high.

But the substance is also a Schedule 1 substance that’s illegal in the United States – and the National Park Service is warning that the frog can also be toxic to humans.

In their post, the Park Service warned that people should refrain from touching – or licking – the frog in hopes of getting high:

“Hey there! Here is the “ribbiting” late night content no one asked for. Yet here we are. The Sonoran desert toad (Bufo alvarius), also known as the Colorado river toad, is one of the largest toads found in North America, measuring nearly 7 inches (18 cm).

What sound does it make? 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?

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. Toot!”

Not only can the frog make humans sick, but studies have found that the the venom is also potent enough to kill a full-grown dog.

But the toad’s popularity for its use in religious ceremonies and demand from people just seeking a quick trip are actually endangering the species, which is believed to have completely disappeared from California after having not been seen in the wild in decades. The animal is also listed as endangered in New Mexico.

And people pay big money for a chance to experience the high from smoking this toad’s venom: “Retreats” in Mexico charge anywhere from $250 to $2,500 for users to take a trip on the God molecule.

For those prices, I guess I’m really not surprised that people are just licking the toads themselves to try to get a cheap high – as dangerous (and disgusting) as that may be.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock