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National Park Service Asks Visitors To Stop Licking Toads

Visitors to the National Park Service are asked to avoid licking toads. This is because it can cause illness. The warning included a night vision photograph of a toad with glowing eyes and the declaration, “ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD!!!,” a reference to the animated television series Futurama.

The National Park Service posted the warning on its official Twitter account last week, noting that the “Sonoran desert toad (Bufo alvarius) is one of the largest toads found in North America, measuring nearly 7 inches (18 cm).” The toad, which is also known as the Colorado river toad, has a self-defense mechanism that causes the amphibian to secrete a toxic substance when disturbed. This secretion is rich in the 5-MeO–DMT compound, which can be found in certain species of plants.

“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,” the National Park Service wroteOn Twitter

5 MeO-DMT, a psychoactive compound that can be used to induce shaming and rage, is very similar to DMT or bufotenin. These three compounds were used in South American spiritual ceremonies as entheogens. In New Mexico, the Sonoran desert toad is considered threatened by “collectors that want to use the animal for drug use,” according to a listing by the state’s Department of Game and Fish.

It is extracted from toads by glands which release a poisonous substance when disturbed, or they are attacked. The 5-MeO–DMT can be inhaled, smoked, or snorted once the drug has dried.

Please Don’t Lick The Toads

The popular trope that toads are seen licking each other in an attempt to get high is known as “toad-licking”. But in its post, the National Park Service warned that the toad’s secretions can be toxic.

“These toads have prominent parotoid glands that secrete a potent toxin,” the agency added to its post on Twitter. “It can make you sick if you handle the frog or get the poison in your mouth.”

U.S Drug Enforcement Administration lists 5-MeO and DMT as a Schedule 1. This means that it has low medical use and a potential for abuse. Researchers are currently studying the compound in order to see if it could be beneficial therapeutically for patients with anxiety and depression. Alan K. Davis Ph.D. is a postdoctoral researcher in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Behavioral Research Unit. He noted 5-MeO–DMT’s unique characteristics, such as its quick action and brief duration of psychedelic effect, which are not found with other drugs.

“Research has shown that psychedelics given alongside psychotherapy help people with depression and anxiety. However, psychedelic sessions usually require 7 – 8 hours per session because psychedelics typically have a long duration of action,” Davis said in a 2019 release from Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Because 5-MeO-DMT is short-acting and lasts approximately 30-90 minutes, it could be much easier to use as an adjunct to therapy because current therapies usually involve a 60 – 90 minute session.”

People have embraced the use of 5-MeO–DMT in a non-clinical setting. This includes celebrities like Chelsea Handler and Mike Tyson, a boxer legend and cannabis entrepreneur. Hunter Biden was the son and president Joseph Biden. He said that he tried 5-MeO-DMT in his early twenties to manage addiction.

British scientist James Rucker, a psychiatrist at King’s College London, said this week that he welcomes the warning from the National Park Service, noting that there have been reports of people licking toads in Asia and elsewhere outside the United States.

“I’m sure the toads would appreciate their dignity and autonomy being preserved, too,” Rucker told The Washington Post. “The toad wants to be left alone. We should respect that.”