What would you do if you stumbled across a giant toad in the wild?
Licking it might not be many people’s immediate answer — but the National Park Service is warning people against doing that anyway.
In a recent Facebook post, the NPS asked visitors to not place their tongues on Sonoran desert toads, also known as Colorado river toads.
“Hey there! Here is the ‘ribbiting’ late night content no one asked for. Yet here we are,” the agency wrote, sharing a photo of a Sonoran desert toad caught on infrared camera at Arizona's Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
“These toads have prominent parotoid glands that secrete a potent toxin,” the agency explained. “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, 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 NPS also shared some information about these giant amphibians, noting that this species is one of the largest toads in North America, measuring nearly 7 inches long.
The agency also said the toad’s sound has been described as a “weak, low-pitched toot, lasting less than a second.”
It’s unclear whether this public service announcement is the result of any specific incidents or whether it serves as more of a general precaution.
In any case, Sonoran desert toads have been in the spotlight for a while now, with some people using poisonous secretions extracted from the creatures to make a type of hallucinogenic drug.
The use of these toads' poison as a psychedelic drug is illegal in the United States and can have extremely harmful consequences, including death, The New York Times reported earlier this year.