"Please refrain from licking" toads, says National Park Service in unusual warning

In case you have the urge to run your tongue over a wild toad — or a banana slug, for that matter — the National Park Service warns, "please refrain from licking."

The warning, posted by NPS last week on Facebook, was referring to mushrooms, banana slugs, and the Sonoran desert toad (also known as the Colorado river toad). Found in parts of Arizona and New Mexico, the 7-inch amphibian secretes powerful toxins that can make you sick — but they can also make you trip, due to a hallucinogenic called 5-MeO-DMT.

"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 agency's unusual message said.

From NPR:

Despite the risks, some people have discovered that the toad's toxic secretions contain a powerful hallucinogenic known as 5-MeO-DMT.

In recent years, smoking the amphibian's secretions has grown in popularity — so much so that the species is even considered threatened at least in New Mexico due to "collectors that want to use the animal for drug use," according to the state's Department of Game & Fish.

A number of public figures have reported experimenting with the toad's extracted toxins. Boxing legend Mike Tyson has spoken about it, and some researchers have even begun to study it for its potential therapeutic benefits. President Biden's son, Hunter Biden, has written about using 5-MeO-DMT therapy as a form of addiction treatment.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration considers 5-MeO-DMT, as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it is currently not accepted for medical use and has a high potential for abuse.

Image: Vladimir Wrangel / shutterstock.com