Message to tourists: Don’t put your mouth on the Sonoran Desert toad, also known as the Colorado River toad, for access to its psychedelic toxins, warns the National Park Service.
“These toads have prominent parotoid glands that secrete a potent toxin. It can make you sick if you handle the frog or get the poison in your mouth. As we say with most things you come across in a national park … please refrain from licking,” the NPS wrote in a Halloween Facebook post.
The toxin secreted by the toad contains a psychedelic chemical, 5-MeO-DMT, that some users call the God molecule for its powerful hallucinatory effects.
Trips caused by the toxin, called five or bufo colloquially, normally last 15 to 30 minutes, according to The New York Times.
Most users provoke the stress response from the toad, dry the toxin into a crystal form and smoke it. The chemical 5-MeO-DMT is a banned Schedule 1 substance in the U.S. but is legal in Mexico. Harvesting of the toads for recreational drug use has affected populations in the past.
“Previously the species has been collected for recreational drug use, but the interest waned. … Interest in collection of the bufotoxin has resumed for medical and perhaps religious purposes, even though a synthetic form of the toxin can be readily developed,” the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish said in a biennial review released last month.
The species is currently listed as threatened by the NMDGF.