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The National Park Service Is Reminding You Not To Lick Wild Toads

You'd think that people wouldn't need a reminder not to lick poisonous frogs in the desert, but apparently the National Park Service has decided otherwise. In a quite unexpected post, the NPS has put out a strict warning against licking Sonoran desert toads (Bufo alvarius), a.k.a. Colorado River toads.

The Sonoran Desert Toad Is One Of The Largest In North America

"Hey there! Here is the “ribbiting” late night content no one asked for," the Facebook post began. "Yet here we are. The Sonoran desert toad (Bufo alvarius), also known as the Colorado river toad, is one of the largest toads found in North America, measuring nearly 7 inches (18 cm)." For reference, that is about the size of an average adult male's hand.

The Sonoran Desert Toad Sounds Like A Ferryboat

"What sound does it make?" the post continued. "Its call has been described as a 'weak, low-pitched toot, lasting less than a second.' Was that the toad or did something startle you?"

Elsewhere in the world of herpetology, a.k.a. the study of reptiles, the noise has been called a "whistling screech" or a "ferryboat whistle."

The toads can be found within a range from Central Arizona to southwest New Mexico and even Sinaloa, Mexico. And while the toads once populated southeastern California, they have not been observed there since the 1970s.

Don't Lick The Toads!

However, the NPS post went on to voice a rather stern reminder. "These toads have prominent parotoid glands that secrete a potent toxin. It can make you sick if you handle the frog or get the poison in your mouth," the post read. "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. Toot!"

But People Lick It Anyway

Toxin from the Sonoran desert toad has strong psychoactive qualities and has even been known to kill adult dogs who tried picking it up in their mouths. However, the toxin can also enter through a dog's nose or eyes, so dog-walkers are generally cautious when walking in areas where the toad is known to live. Signs of poisoning generally include irregular heartbeat and excessive salivation.

Sonoran desert frogs are active from the final days of May until September, especially in summer. However, during summer, they are mostly nocturnal.

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