Psychonauts have long known of the psychedelic power of the Sonoran Desert toad. Its secretions contain the "God molecule" itself—5-MeO-DMT—and that's why people are compelled to dry and smoke the toad's "sweat" (or sometimes lick the toad itself (which the National Park Service strongly advises against.) But that particular toad is not the only animal that can trigger a psychedelic experience in people. Science News surveys some others, including:
California harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex californicus)
Habitat: Southwestern United States and northern Mexico
The venom of the California harvester ant is made up of enzymes that aren't known to cause hallucinations on their own, but the Indigenous peoples of central California once ate them during rituals including vision quests. Ethnographic reports suggest people would swallow hundreds of live ants in balls of eagle down feathers. No doubt the people were stung, likely on the insides.
Justin Schmidt, an entomologist at the Southwestern Biological Institute and University of Arizona in Tucson who died in February, said the pain of being stung by so many ants, along with extreme cold, fasting and in some cases sleep deprivation, triggered hallucinations that connected the people with spiritual guides.
Salema (Sarpa salpa)
Habitat: Temperate and tropical ocean waters, from the Atlantic coast of Africa to the Mediterranean Sea
Fishes including this species of sea bream, as well as some sea chubs and clownfish, can cause auditory and visual hallucinations when eaten, though reports are rare. Sarpa salpa was known as the "dream fish" in ancient Rome, according to a 2018 review of psychedelic fauna published in Frontiers in Psychiatry. Two cases of hallucinatory fish poisoning were documented in 2006 in the journal Clinical Toxicology. In one case, a 40-year-old man ate baked S. salpa and later experienced hallucinations of screaming animals and giant arthropods surrounding his car.