Bufo alvarius, also known as Colorado river toad and Sonoran Desert toad is a psychoactive toad. More precisely, the main defence system of the toad are a pair of glands that produce a poison that is said to be strong enough to kill a grown dog. These parotid glands also produce 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenine. Both of these chemicals belong to the family of hallucinogenic tryptamines.
Bufo alvarius and its venom probably account for the contemporary myth that has been around for quite a few decades now; the one stating that licking certain frogs can get you high.
However, science rejects this common belief and the truth is that licking Bufo alvarius would probably only get one to a hospital, if anywhere.
As a matter of fact, 5-MeO-DMT is known to be toxic when consumed orally. However, this chemical, when smoked, is powerfully psychoactive, along with bufotenine.
Bufo alvarius can be found in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. The first reported cases of use of the toad’s venom were reported in the ’80s in the Sonoran Desert, just outside Phoenix, Arizona.
Needless to say, it is quite an unusual legal high, and it is not even entirely legal (more about this later).
Interesting facts about the Bufo alvarius:
Smoking the venom of Bufo alvarius was first popularised through a pamphlet by Albert Most. The pamphlet, titled “The Psychedelic Toad of the Sonoran Desert”, was published by the Venom Press in Denton, Texas in 1983. In this piece, he described how he found and “milked” psychoactive toads in the Sonoran Desert, as well as the effects of smoking their venom.
The pamphlet was so enthusiastic in its phrasing that the word spread out quickly, and the Bufo alvarius quickly became an object of veneration throughout the Sonoran Desert. Through the years it received considerable attention world-wide as well. Al Most and some of his friends and acquaintances even formed an informal congregation “worshipping” the toad and its magical venom, called The Church of the Toad of Light.
The toad and its venom are still considered sacred by some indigenous communities today. Vice.com recently made a short documentary about Octavio Rettig, a doctor who has studied the toad for more than eight years. He supplies the locals in the Sonoran Desert with the smokable toad venom extract and conducts special “rituals”. These, he claims, can cure drug addiction – a major problem amongst members of indigenous communities.
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Bufo alvarius guide
- Bufo alvarius basics
- Colorado river toad’s legal status
- Bufo alvarius for sale – US
- Bufo alvarius for sale – Worldwide
- Main active ingredients of Bufo alvarius
- The effects of Colorado river toad venom
- Dangers of the Bufo alvarius venom
- Health benefits of the Colorado river toad venom
- Bufo alvarius – extracting the venom from the toad and smoking
- Bufo alvarius trip reports
Bufo alvarius – legal status
Bufo Alvarius, also known as the Colorado river toad and the Sonoran Desert toad, only lives in the southern parts of North America, which basically means a few southern US states (California, New Mexico and Arizona, to be precise) and the north of Mexico.
In New Mexico, Bufo alvarius is considered a threatened species and therefore it is illegal to catch or possess one. In California the legal status of the toad is protected, which entails less prohibitions, but it is still illegal to ship the animals out of the state. Arizona, where most of the Colorado river toads can be found doesn’t classify them as neither endangered, nor threatened or protected. However, it is still illegal to carry them across the state border.
Moreover, both bufotenine and 5-MeO-DMT are Schedule I drugs under US law. Prosecutions for possessing toad venom, however, have been relatively rare (probably because of the obscurity of the substance).
The first reported case was in 1994, when Bob Shepard, a 41-year-old teacher at a local nature centre was arrested for possessing – amongst other substances like LSD – dried Colorado river toad venom. Another case occurred in 2007 in Kansas City, when the 21 years old David Theiss was accused of having a Colorado river toad for the purpose of using it as a hallucinogenic.
Legal restrictions on the toad itself only exist in those few states it is native to. However, many countries in the world have prohibitions in place on its main psychoactive components, bufotenine and 5-MeO-DMT.
5-MeO-DMT’s legal status in the following countries:
|USA||illegal, Schedule I under federal law|
|Belgium||the substance itself if not scheduled, but consumption is illegal (unconfirmed)|
|Canada||not specifically scheduled, but can still be illegal for human consumption (unconfirmed)|
|Denmark||only legal for medical and scientific purposes|
|Finland||illegal since 2014|
|Germany||illegal, Schedule I drug|
|Greece||illegal, considered a controlled substance (unconfirmed)|
|Japan||illegal, controlled as a “designated substance”|
|New Zealand||illegal, Schedule I (Class A) drug|
|Russia||illegal, controlled substance|
|South Africa||not specifically scheduled, but could be considered|
illegal for being analogous with other similar substances, like bufotenine
|Switzerland||illegal, Schedule I (unconfirmed)|
|UK||illegal, Schedule I|
Bufotenine’s legal status in the following countries:
|US||illegal under federal law, Schedule I substance|
|UK||illegal, Schedule I/Class A|
|New Zealand||illegal, Schedule I/Class A|
|South Africa||illegal under the Drug and Drug Trafficking Act No. 140 of 1992|
Bufo alvarius for sale – US
It is likely that you can only get your hands on a wild specimen legally if you live in Arizona. Captive-bred toads can be purchased through the internet from pet and reptile shops. However, I do not know any of those kinds of retailers, therefore I can recommend none.
Bufo alvarius for sale – outside of the US
It could be hard to obtain one outside of the North American continent, but captive bred specimens might be found elsewhere too. However, I can not recommend any places right now.
Main active ingredients in the venom of Bufo alvarius
The main psychoactive ingredients in the venom of the Bufo alvarius are bufotenine and 5-MeO-DMT (5-methoxy-N,N dimethyltryptamine).
Both are powerful psychedelic tryptamines and are Schedule I substances in the US. They are also illegal under many other country’s laws.
Colorado river toad venom is reported to contain 3% bufotenine and around 15% 5-MeO-DMT.
The effects of the Colorado river toad venom
Both bufotenine and 5-MeO-DMT are strong psychedelic tryptamines.
However, they are mixed in the venom of the Colorado river toad, the effects of which have not been very thoroughly researched. I will also include some trip reports in the trip report section. However, those can’t really be considered the objectively proven effects of the mix, rather subjective psychedelic experiences under the influence of the substance.
The reported effects of the 5-MeO-DMT are listed below. These can give you a good idea about the Bufo alvarius venom trip (they are also similar to bufotenine’s effects):
- immersive experiences
- powerful “rushing” sensation
- radical perspective shifting
- profound life-changing spiritual experiences
- occasional euphoria
- internal visions (closed eye visual effects not as common, open eyed visuals are unheard of)
- short duration
- change in perception of time
- experience of “the void”
- lack of memory of experience
- muscle jerking, twitching, abnormal vocalisations
- unconsciousness/non-responsiveness lasting 5–20 minutes
- overly intense experiences, fear, dysphoria, panic
- sense of pressure in the body
- difficulty integrating experiences
Dangers of Bufo alvarius venom
Smoking Bufo alvarius venom can be irritating to the throat and lungs. Apart from that, it shares the dangerous properties of psychedelic substances in general. Meaning that mentally unstable people, and those, who are susceptible to psychosis, might be at risk of long-term negative psychological effects.
Increased heart rate and blood pressure under the influence of the venom may also cause problems for people with high blood pressure or other cardiovascular conditions.
None of the components of the Colorado river toad venom are reported to cause physical addiction.
Bufo alvarius venom health benefits
Venoms usually do not have apparent health benefits (if they did, they wouldn’t be too effective for their purpose, would they?). The Bufo alvarius venom is no exception. Although, some anthropological studies suggest that it was used as a “medication” in ancient indigenous american cultures, it was most likely only a remedy for illnesses of the spirit.
Bufo alvarius – extracting the venom from the toad and smoking it
Buy Bufo alvarius – US
It is likely that you can only get your hands on a wild specimen legally only if you live in Arizona. You can purchase captive-bred toads through the internet from pet and reptile shops. However, I’m not familiar with these kinds of retailers, so I cannot recommend any.
Buy Bufo alvarius
It could be hard to obtain one outside of the North American continent, but a captive bred specimen might be found elsewhere too.
Bufo alvarius trip reports
The short trip report in Albert Most’s pamphlet from the ’80s was so enthusiastic that it started a full-blown cult around the amphibian. I’ll include it here:
“Within thirty seconds, there will be an onset of almost overwhelming psychedelic effects. You will be completely absorbed in a complex chemical event characterised by an overload of thoughts and perception, brief collapse of the EGO, and loss of the space-time continuum. Relax, breathe regularly, and flow with the experience. After two to three minutes, the initial intensity fades to a pleasant LSD-like sensation in which visual illusions, hallucinations, and perceptual distortions are common. You may sense a distortion in your perceived body image or notice the world shrinking or expanding. You may notice that colors seem brighter and more beautiful than usual. And, most likely, you will experience a euphoric mood interspersed with bursts of unmotivated laughter.”
See another short excerpt from a Bufo alvarius venom trip report from Erowid.org (this one is not wholly pleasant, but interesting nevertheless):
“Toad venom for me was also terrifying, but in a different way. The first time I did it I was on the safe side with the dose and didn’t feel much. With this in mind, I way over did it the second time. It came on in a rush and kept getting stronger. I was actually inside the body of a toad just under the sand, feeling the world in a strange way. I started to feel dry and extremely thirsty. I had to get to the water. I was on fire. I ran up the stairs stripping my clothes as I jumped the steps. I hopped into the shower and turned the water on. Gasping for breath I began to see my skin as a yellowish color and goose bumps rising from my skin. I soon realised that the water was ice cold and I was freezing. I tried to adjust the water temp. but was just fumbling with the handle. Now I felt like I could hardly breath and jumped out of the shower, then back in. I looked in the mirror and saw the spirit of the toad blended with my body. It was as if the toad and I were one. Very strange. I had to consciously will myself to live. One breath at a time. I soon, about 5 min., felt better and was enjoying toad space. With a smile on my face, I kept repeating to myself, “you’re alive…you’re really still alive.” I then began to laugh as a wave of brilliant colors and sounds swirled around. It was one of the most terrifying and rewarding experiences I have yet experienced. I would try it again only at a more enjoyable (lower) dose.”
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Some of the information presented here might be outdated or incorrect (check “last updated” below). Make sure that if you are planning to try out any of the substances to research them yourself as well.
I’m 100% committed to safe and responsible legal high consumption. If you have a few minutes to spare please read my blog post about responsible and safe legal drugs use.
The venom of Bufo alvarius is only one of the legal highs included in Simon’s legal high guide, check out the others as well.
If you are only interested in legal psychedelics, then check out Simon’s Legal Psychedelics for more.
Last updated: 2015. 11. 12.