Can Licking Toads Make You High?

I was watching the news the other day and heard that people are licking toads in National Parks across the USA in an attempt to “get high.”

I hold a Bachelors of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife, and a certificate in Master Herpetology and know very well how dangerous licking toads can be.

Licking toads does not have the potential to make a person experience a ‘high’ or altered mental state. All toads secrete a toxin on their skin as a defense mechanism, and ingesting this toxin orally may cause physical illness and death. However, ingesting toad poison will not cause a person to “get high.”

We will use this article as an educational piece as to why people should not go around licking toads to try to get high.

We highly advise against it as it will not allow you the ‘high’ experience that is desired from licking a toad.

So why do people think it will work? And what happens if you do lick a toad? Let me explain.

Licking Toads Will Not Make You High

Some humans believe that licking the toxin on the skin of toads will enable them to experience altered states of consciousness (or “get high”).

Some people lick toads in an attempt to experience psychedelic or hallucinogenic outcomes.

However, that is not possible.

Humans will not experience a ‘high’ from licking the secretions off toad skin.

Trying to ingest raw toad poison will not activate a hallucinogenic experience, just like eating the bud off a pot plant will not get you high as is.

Most toad species in the United States do not even carry toxins that can induce an hallucinogenic experience.

Licking Toads Will Make You Physically Sick

Ingesting the poison secreted from toad skin has the potential to make a person physically ill.

Just like any other wild animal, toads carry bacteria and parasites on their skin. Toads may also carry salmonella on their skin. Therefore, licking a toad can make you very ill.

Depending on the species, raw toad poison can affect the body in multiple ways and in some cases have proved to be fatal. These symptoms are a potential, but still a risk. 

A report by Brubacher et al. in 1996 stated that six healthy men developed illness after ingesting toad toxin.

They experienced vomiting and slowed heart rates. Four patients ended up passing away from cardiac episode complications.  

One patient felt painful and weak before being admitted to the hospital. Fever, feeling cold, and numbness in extremities have been noted in hospitalized patients.

There is no guarantee these symptoms will occur or be this severe, but they have happened. 

Licking Toads Can Get You in Trouble

The toxin 5-Meo-DMT that is secreted by two toad species in the United States: Cane Toads and Colorado River Toads.

Being in possession of 5-Meo-DMT or a Colorado River Toad is an is illegal in the United States.

5-Meo-DMT is not admitted for medical use and has the potential for being addictive if used in a form that may not cause physical illness, such as vapor inhalation.

Those in possession of the toad for drug use purposes can find themselves in some serious trouble. Some people have gone to jail for this.

Countries such as Mexico and those in Central and South America do not have laws against smoking vapor derived from 5-Meo-DMT.

Although it is not illegal, those countries have seen a decline in some of the toad populations that reside in those regions. 

The National Park Service of the United States warns of the dangers of consuming the secretions and asks park visitors not to participate.

The Colorado river toad, perhaps the most toxic toad in the United States, has become increasingly popular among toxin seekers.

Please, if you come across a Colorado river toad in its natural habitat, especially in a national park, refrain from touching it for your own safety.

All Toads are Poisonous 

Toads are a more terrestrial amphibian species encompassed in the frog family. Every species of toad is poisonous to some degree.

They contain the parotoid gland behind their eyes that secretes a toxin onto their skin to ward off predators. 

Some toads may have a more concentrated toxin than others.

The purpose of this poison is to be distasteful to potential predators.

The species of toad may have different potencies of poison and each potentially predator species may react to the poison differently. 

The toxin may be fatal to some species if ingested. To others, it may just taste foul.

Some species could foam at the mouth and vomit after licking a toad. There are even some species who suffer no adverse reactions and can safely ingest a poisonous toad. 

Vaporized Toad Poison May Be Used As A Hallucinogenic 

The toxin secreted from the parotoid gland in toads has the potential to be used as a hallucinogenic if inhaled in a vaporized form when prepared and controlled by experienced users.

The toxin is called 5-MeO-DMT and can be turned into a vapor to potentially be used to treat certain illnesses. Take note that this is different than directly ingesting the toxin. 

It is possible to collect the poison from toads to be dried and smoked into a vapor.

It causes a psychedelic experience for the user and many native Central and South American civilizations have used it in rituals.

It is a short-lived and intense experience that is still being researched by scientists. 

Some users of the vaporized form of toad toxin experienced better mental outlook after a psychedelic episode involving the toxin.

It can alter a person’s mindset and decrease feelings of depression and anxiety. 

Of course, this experience can be different for others. It is possible to experience stronger feelings of mental dread and anxiety after a toad-induced psychedelic episode.

The effects 5-MeO-DMT has on a person’s mental outlook is still being researched by scientists and its use remains illegal in the USA.

Sources

Brubacher, J. R. R., Ravikumar, P. R., Heller, M. B., & Hoffman, R. S. (2015, December 29). Treatment of toad venom poisoning with digoxin-specific fab fragments. Science Direct. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0012369215465389 

Kim, J. (2022, November 6). The National Park Service wants humans to stop licking this toad. NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2022/11/06/1134615997/the-national-park-service-wants-humans-to-stop-licking-this-toad#:~:text=National%20Park%20Service%20asks%20visitors%20stop%20licking%20toxic%20toads%20The,secretions%20contain%20a%20powerful%20hallucinogenic Reckweg, J. T., Mason, M. L., Szabo, A., Davis, A. K., Lancelotta, R., Mason, N. L., & Ramaekers, J. G. (2022, January 10). The Clinical Pharmacology and potential therapeutic applications of 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine. Wiley. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdfdirect/10.1111/jnc.15587

Daniella Master Herpetologist

Daniella is a Master Herpetologist and the founder of toadsnfrogs.com, a website dedicated to educating the general population on frogs by meeting them where they are in their online Google Search. Daniella is passionate about frogs and put her digital marketing skills and teaching experience to good use by creating these helpful resources to encourage better education, understanding, and care for frogs.