Editor's Note: “Heard Around the West” appears monthly in the High Country News. Have a Western oddity you’d like to share? Write heard@hcn.org.


The National Park Service wants the public to please refrain from licking toads, specifically the Sonoran Desert (formerly the Colorado River) toad. You might be wondering, “Why is that?” Or, more likely, “WTF?” Turns out that this toad — “one of the largest toads found in North America, measuring up to 7 inches” — has evolved an ingenious defensive feature: a toxic substance secreted from its glands. High Times reports that it contains the “compound 5-MeO-DMT, a tryptamine-class psychedelic drug” that’s also found in certain plant species, including some traditionally used by South American Indigenous cultures for spiritual ceremonies. Meaning that, yes, you can theoretically get buzzed by binging batrachian biofluids. But you can also get sick — the Park Service notes that the secretions “can be toxic” — and it’s not healthy for the toads either. Plus, it’s just plain rude. Like, toadally.

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