A notice from the National Park Service falls somewhere in between “preaching to the choir” and the Streisand Effect. There is probably a better idiom that I can’t think of right now. The Sonoran Desert toad, also called the Colorado River toad, lives in the western US and northern Mexico. Its skin glands secrete toxins, as the park service tells us:
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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. 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!
The “toot” is from the toad’s call, described as a low pitched toot. The Facebook post has gone viral for its odd warning, as if droves of people would normally try to lick a toad in its natural habitat. But CNN tells us that the toxin the toad exudes is a powerful psychedelic that causes “euphoria and strong auditory hallucinations.” So we know who the warning is for, but those who would deliberately lick a toad in the forest for its psychedelic effects now know what to look for.
The rest of us cringe at the idea of handling a wild animal, much less licking its skin. The real value in the warning is for parents, to keep children from trying to pet toads -or any wild animal, for that matter.
(Image credit: Wildfeuer)