Sonoran Toads:
The Dangers and Precautions

If you live or visit Apache Junction, Arizona, you may encounter a creature that can pose a threat to your health and your pet’s safety: the Sonoran Desert Toad. This toad is the largest native toad in the United States and can secrete a potent toxin that can cause hallucinations, convulsions, and even death if ingested. Here are some facts and tips on how to avoid and deal with this toxic amphibian.

What is the Sonoran Desert Toad?

The Sonoran Desert Toad, also known as the Colorado River Toad, is a common species in the Sonoran Desert region, from central Arizona to southwestern New Mexico and northern Mexico. It is active from late May to September, mainly during the rainy monsoon season. It lays eggs in temporary rain pools and permanent ponds, can grow up to eight inches in length, and weigh almost two pounds.

Why is it poisonous?

The Sonoran Desert Toad has two large glands on each side of its head that produce a white, milky liquid that contains two psychoactive substances: 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenin. These substances are hallucinogenic and can affect the nervous system of humans and animals. The toad releases the toxin when it feels threatened or disturbed, such as when licked or bitten by a curious dog or cat.

How can it harm me or my pet?

The toxin can make you or your pet sick if you touch it or get it in your mouth, nose, or eyes. The poisoning symptoms include foaming at the mouth, seizures, high fever, dilated pupils, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and loss of coordination. In severe cases, the poisoning can lead to coma or death. Some people may also try to lick or smoke the toad’s venom to experience its psychedelic effects, but this is extremely dangerous and illegal.

What should I do if I encounter a Sonoran Desert Toad?

Avoid contact with the toad and its secretions is the best way to prevent poisoning. If you see a Sonoran Desert Toad in your yard or near a water source, do not touch it or try to catch it. Please keep your pets away from it and supervise them when they are outdoors. If you suspect you or your pet have been exposed to the toxin, seek medical or veterinary attention immediately. Rinse the affected area with water and remove any clothing or accessories that may have been contaminated.

The Sonoran Desert Toad is a fascinating but dangerous creature that deserves respect and caution. By following these tips, you can protect yourself and your pet from its harmful effects and enjoy living or visiting Apache Junction safely.

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