What is a hypnotoad? Cops warn National Park visitors from 'licking' amphibian as it can be lethal

What is a hypnotoad? Cops warn National Park visitors from 'licking' amphibian as it can be lethal
Sonoran desert toad is commonly found in Arizona or New Mexico (National Park Service)

AJO, ARIZONA: Officials of the National Park Service have alerted visitors about a toad that can spawn hallucinations and 'powerful psychoactive' reactions. Officials last observed the about 7-inch toad with a black and white sensor camera located at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona. This amphibian is also a native to New Mexico and Mexico and has the ability to cause psychoactive effects when its toxins are smoked. 

According to Oakland Zoo and CNN, the Sonoran desert toad, also referred to as the Colorado river toad, is one of the largest toads in the US that has venoms that can "paralyze or kill dogs and other predators". "These toads have prominent parotoid glands that secrete a potent toxin. It can make you sick if you handle the front or get poison in your mouth," NPS wrote on Facebook on October 31. "Please refrain from licking." The toads make a "weak, low-pitched toot, lasting less than a second," according to the NPS and their eyes also glow in the dark.


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Desert Museum reports that an individual can get intoxicated by touching the creature's skin through the openings of their mouths, eyes, or noses. Although a small creature, it carries toxins that are deadly enough to kill a dog that grabs the amphibian in their mouths. Irregular heartbeat and salivation are some of the symptoms that one may experience if one gets poisoned. 


According to Oakland Zoo, toxins from the toads can be smoked and lead to "powerful psychoactive" effect, such as a euphoric high and "strong auditory hallucinations". It is illegal to carry the toad's toxins in some states including California. People dealing with anxiety and depression are treated with the help of these toxins extracted from the Sonoran desert toad, The New York Times reported. Retreat centers have opened advertising as "hospitals" to treat mental problems by the consumption of the toxins during what is called a ‘toad ceremony.’ According to the same outlet, some Mexicans and people in Texas pay $250 to $8,500 to smoke the toxin. 

The toxins are generally ingested during these ceremonies. An immense amount of toxins can be released by these toads if they feel vulnerable which can later be dried up and smoked. The effects of the toxins last about half an hour. During rainfall from May to July, the toads are more active on the ground but tend to live underground when it is hot or during the summer, according to Oakland Zoo.

People might catch a glimpse of these amphibians when near reservoirs or other water bodies in Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. The creatures were also often found in South California but were not spotted in the said place for many decades. 

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