How Do You Feel After You Lick a Toad?
by Ellen Uzelac
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[It's true. I swear it's true, I read it in the paper
and I'm printing it here, verbatim, except for the parts
I took out to avoid prosecution. This story has it all:
drugs, -*--, toads, Australia, aquaria, the sacred,
lawnmowers, someone called Stephanie, and slime. I could
post this in _every_ newsgroup on the system, but I chose
just the ones _you_ read. How about that?]
"How do you feel after you lick a toad?"
By Ellen Uzelac of the Baltimore Sun, quoted without permission.
San Fransisco -- Licking toads will not give you warts
or produce a fairy prince, but it might get you high.
It isn't exactly an epidemic, but the Drug Enforcement
Administration says toad licking is the latest way to
"It sounds like a fairy tale gone wrong, doesn't it?" said
Robert K. Sager, chief of the DEA's laboratory in San
Fransisco. "Now, I don't think this is going to be a great
problem because people don't go around licking toads as a
habit." [Speak for yourself, Bob.]
The culprit: the Cane toad.
"They're beautiful toads," Sager said. "People like them."
The Cane toad, which can grow to the size of a dinner plate,
produces a toxin called bufotenine, which the toad secretes
to ward off predators. When licked raw, or cooked, the
toxin acts as a hallucinogen.
In the Southwest recently, several dogs have died after
eating Cane toads, and the DEA has had bufotenine turn up at
its research labs from time to time after drug arrests.
The green-and-red toads produce the same toxin that is found
in amanita mushrooms, cohoba seeds and other plants.
Indians in South America have used the toxin for its
mind-altering qualities for years in religious ceremonies,
and some tribes have used it in blowguns to kill dinner.
Bufotenine is considered a controlled, dangerous substance
and is therefore illegal. However, it is not against the
law to own a Cane toad, A FAVORITE OF AQUARIUM AFICIONADOS.
[Emphasis ours, Richard.]
"If you had a toad, we would have to prove you were licking
it on purpose, or you had given it to someone to lick on
purpose," Sager explained.
The Cane toad has come into some renown in Australia, where
four people died last year after partaking of its marbled
flesh. (Depending on the size of the toad and the
concentrations of toxin consumed, bufotenine can be fatal.)
The toad was imported to Australia from Hawaii in 1935 to
kill the Greyback beetle, which was destroying sugar cane in
Queensland. The toad adapted beautifully, MULTIPLIED IN THE
MILLIONS and ate everything -- except for the beetle.
Last fall, officials in Brisbane, Australia's third-largest
city, announced an elaborate plan to eradicate the poisonous
toads, which today pose a major threat to the continent's
fauna and wildlife.
In her book, "Cane Toads: An Unnatural History," Stephanie
Lewis describes a toad population so out of control that
when she mows her lawn she encounters "one cane toad to every
two square meters, leaving all the trimmings of carcasses,
guts and stench" in the cut grass. ...
In recent years, toad licking has become popular in the
Australian outback, prompting Queensland's government to
classify toad slime as an illegal substance under its Drug
Misuse Act. ...
"This is what you call a desperation high. It's the sort of
thing you do when you run out of dope," [Sager] added. "It's
BIZARRE behavior. Man has always found ways to get off and
he's found some weird ways to do it."
[Tell us about it. Eh, -*--?]