SMOKING A TOAD GIVE YOU WARTS?
recently heard southern toads and gray treefrogs calling in the woods
after a rain. Their respective trills make beautiful forest music that
belies their appearances, and their toxic capabilities. The experience
made me remember questions I've been asked about frogs and toads. One
I have been asked many times, the other not so much.
I have heard that toads can cause warts and that some frogs are poisonous
if you pick them up. Is there any truth to these statements?
The answer is no and yes. I know of no scientific evidence that toads
can cause warts despite the common superstition. However, some frogs
and toads produce noxious or even deadly poisons to which humans can
warty skin and some of these bumps are glands that produce poisonous
substances. Likewise, many frogs have glands in their skin that produce
toxins. The poison produced by skin glands of frogs and toads unquestionably
serves as defense against some of their predators by making them unpalatable.
The toxic-producing glands are all over the body and legs in some species,
providing protection no matter where a predator grabs them. The toxic
substances of some species may discourage parasites from attaching to
the frog's skin and inhibit the growth of fungus or bacteria.
of paratoid glands is evident on the top of the head in some species
of toads. These large glands produce secretions called bufotoxin that
can sometimes be seen as a milky liquid when the gland is squeezed.
Secretions from the paratoid glands of some species can be extremely
toxic and even lethal for some animals that bite them. The effect it
has on a potential predator is evident when a dog bites a common garden
toad and then begins to foam at the mouth.
skin secretion of frogs such as the common gray tree frog can cause
extreme discomfort if it gets into the membranes of the eyes or nose.
So don't rub your eyes if you pick one up. A few South American frogs
known as the poison dart frogs produce alkaloid toxins on their skin
that are among the deadliest poisons known. I have a friend who picked
up one of these frogs. The skin secretions got into a minor cut on his
arm and within seconds he went into a comalike condition and almost
all-time toad question is the following.
This may sound like a dumb question, but a friend says she knew someone
from California who smoked toads at a campfire on a beach. Could this
be true? I think she is pulling my leg, so she said to ask you.
The first rule of thumb about tales from California is to believe anything
you hear until someone proves it is false, especially if it happened
on a beach. Your friend's account could certainly be true. Let me clarify
one point: Toads are not smoked like oysters or toasted like marshmallows.
Instead, toad smoking, which evolved from toad licking, involves the
use of cigarette papers.
licking, one laps up toxic secretions from paratoid glands on a toad's
head to achieve psychedelic effects. A significant drawback, however,
is that a frequent toad licker can become ill, maybe even die. So clever
Californians found a way around the problem. Because heat breaks down
the toxic components in the toad's glandular secretions without affecting
the sought-after hallucinogenic compounds, toad secretions can be dried
and rolled in cigarette papers. Hey presto, a puff or two and you're
ready for your trip.
Besides being a bizarre practice, smoking or licking a toad has legal
implications. The hallucinogens extracted from toads are an illegal
doubt that either toad licking or toad smoking will ever become a serious
problem, but let me go on record as saying that ingesting poison may
be hazardous to your health. So think before you lick or inhale.
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