Calling it “toad-ally terrifying,” officials said the Sonoran Desert Toad (Bufo alvarius), one of the largest toads in North America, secretes a potent toxin that experts say can make people sick if they handle the frog or get the poison in their mouths.
“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. Thank you,” the Park Service said Monday on Facebook.
According to The New York Times, the toxins can be strong enough to kill full-grown dogs when the toad is threatened.
The call of the huge toad, which measures almost 7 inches, sounds like a “weak, low-pitched toot, lasting less than a second,” Park Service officials said.
The amphibian, also known as the Colorado River Toad, secretes its toxin through its prominent parotoid glands, located on the back, neck, and shoulder of toads and some frogs and salamanders.
The substance in the toxins can also be crystalized and smoked as a psychedelic substance, the Times reported. It causes an intense feeling generally lasting 15 to 30 minutes compared with other such substances that can elicit hallucinations for hours, the report said.
The toads, the Times reports, have a life span reaching 20 years, though they have become threatened in places such as New Mexico, with authorities there citing factors including excessive collection of the amphibians.