When it comes to the world of psychedelic fauna, few species are as intriguing as the Sonoran Desert toad. It’s technically known as Incilius alvarius. But licking the toad won’t get you high – instead, it might kill you.
Don’t Lick The Toads
Last fall, a plea from the U.S. National Park Service urged visitors to abstain from licking this particular species. The reason? A potent psychedelic compound excreted through its skin has led to increasing instances of poaching, over-harvesting, and illegal trafficking.
Despite the warnings, the toad’s secretions don’t typically induce psychedelic experiences when ingested directly. In fact, they’re toxic when ingested and could lead to cardiac arrest.
When the secretions are collected, dried, and smoked, however, they may elicit auditory and visual hallucinations. Or they may do nothing except get you in a lot of trouble.
The Sonoran Toad and the “God molecule”
The compound responsible for these effects is called 5-MeO-DMT. It’s also in plants as well as the Colorado River toad. And it’s so potent some people have dubbed it the “God molecule.”
The growing demand for powerful hallucinogenic substances now poses a risk to toad populations. These toads often die when humans relocate them outside of their home territory, and it’s common for diseases to spread when smuggler store them together.
All toads secrete toxins, which originally evolved to keep their bodies moist and later evolved as a method of self-defense. What sets the Sonoran Desert toad apart is its unique ability to convert bufotenine, a compound produced by many toads, into 5-MeO-DMT. When threatened, the toad excretes its potent mixture from glands behind each eye and on its legs as a defense mechanism.
The Sonoran Toad’s Toxic Friends
The Sonoran Desert toad isn’t the only species with psychedelic potential. The giant monkey frog from the Amazon Basin produces a toxic secretion called kambô. Its use as a psychedelic is debated. But some users report spiritual experiences similar to those induced by classic hallucinogens, Nevertheless, kambô does not activate the 5-HT2A receptor, a characteristic of traditional psychedelics. Indigenous populations have used kambô for centuries in shamanistic rituals to boost stamina.
Humans have a long history of seeking altered states of consciousness, often guided by the natural world. But our pursuit of these experiences should never come at the expense of the very creatures that offer us these extraordinary glimpses into other realms.
It’s important to balance our curiosity and respect for the natural world with conservation efforts to protect these species and their habitats from exploitation.
If you want to see and hear the toad in question, we found a reliable YouTube video. When it comes to this species, we urge you only to get information from reliable sources!