Sonoran Desert toad venom highly sought after

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The Sonoran Desert toad is a native amphibian that appears throughout the region when summer rains start to hit. The toad is also targeted for its hallucinogenic venom, which some use to self-medicate. And that’s raising a number of concerns. We learned more from Robert Villa of the Tucson Herpetological Society.

The Sonoran Desert Toad is the largest amphibian in the southwest and can’t be found anywhere else on the world. The largest range to a little smaller than a football with glands that hold hallucinogenic venom, 5-MeO-DMT. As far as researchers know, this toad is the only animal on earth that produces this potent chemical psychedelic.

Over the last several years, the demand for this drug has highly increased in order to self-medicate. People who have used the toad’s drug have reported that they are no longer dependent of drugs, such as meth or opioids, and they have severely reduced post traumatic stress disorder.

Villa’s concern is that this drug is so strong that some people do die after consumption due to underlying pre-existing health conditions. He also mentions that the amount of facilitators for such drugs is growing and there is no verification that these individuals are certified in any way. “You really need qualified professionals. Never mind the fact that in the United States, it’s a federal schedule 1 substance,” he said.

Villa says that some people can endure dangerous reactions to the drug that might not be able to be treated. Villa recalls the time when he was first made aware of the issue, and he was notified that two tons of toads had been confiscated by the authorities.  He mentions that today we stand where there is a growing narcotic industry where these toads are growing in popularity, but we can’t do much about the problem “if we don’t know what a healthy population of toads looks like in the first place. We need control,” he said.

Robert Villa, President, Tucson Herpetological Society.

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