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‘Please refrain from licking’ this toxic toad, park service officials say

Patriot-News - 11/7/2022

It’s pretty well understood that one shouldn’t put a strange object in one’s mouth.

The National Park Service would like to remind everyone that this also applies to the Sonoran desert toad.

CNN Travel reports how the department issued a statement via Facebook last week warning people of the dangers of licking the toxic amphibian.

“Here is the ‘ribbiting’ late night content no one asked for. Yet here we are,” reads the post. “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 ‘week, low-pitched too, lasting less than a second.’ Was that a toad or did something startle you?”

But despite its timid “toot,” the NPS describes how the toad’s skin packs quite the punch.

“These toads have prominent parotoid glands that secrete a potent toxin,” continues the post. “It can make you sick if you hand the grog 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 large toad with glowing eyes in the dead of night, please refrain from licking. Thank you. Toot!”

While the incident which caused the NPS to post this Facebook warning is unknown, NPR states how smoking the toad’s secretions has become a popular hallucinogenic among recreational drug users.

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