A picture of Bufo avarius - an illustration to Simon's Bufo Alvarius (Sonoran desert toad) Guide

Simon’s Bufo Alvarius (Colorado River Toad) Guide

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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.


This is a picture of indigenous americans smoking the venom of the Bufo alvarius toad in the Sonoran Desert.
Indigenous americans smoking psychoactive toad venom in the Sonoran Desert (source: vice.com)


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.



Erowid archives: The Sonoran Desert Toad

The Toad Prophet: Vice.com documentary



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Bufo alvarius guide




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.



Threatened and Endangered Frogs and Toads

Missionary for Toad Venom Is Facing Charges (NY Times)

Man, Toad Arrested in Drug Bust (Fox News)



5-MeO-DMT’s legal status in the following countries:


countrylegal status
USAillegal, Schedule I under federal law
Belgiumthe substance itself if not scheduled, but consumption is illegal (unconfirmed)
Canadanot specifically scheduled, but can still be illegal for human consumption (unconfirmed)
Denmarkonly legal for medical and scientific purposes
Finlandillegal since 2014
Germanyillegal, Schedule I drug
Greeceillegal, considered a controlled substance (unconfirmed)
Japanillegal, controlled as a “designated substance”
New Zealandillegal, Schedule I (Class A) drug
Russiaillegal, controlled substance
South Africanot specifically scheduled, but could be considered
illegal for being analogous with other similar substances, like bufotenine
Swedenillegal, controlled
Switzerlandillegal, Schedule I (unconfirmed)
UKillegal, Schedule I


Bufotenine’s legal status in the following countries:


countrylegal status
USillegal under federal law, Schedule I substance
UKillegal, Schedule I/Class A
New Zealandillegal, Schedule I/Class A
South Africaillegal 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 structure of 5-MeO-DMT - one of the psychoactive ingredients of the Bufo alvarius or Sonoran Desert Toad Venom.
5-MeO-DMT – an ingredient of the venom of the Bufo alvarius psychoactive toad


The main psychoactive ingredients in the venom of the Bufo alvarius are bufotenine and 5-MeO-DMT (5-methoxy-N,N dimethyltryptamine).

A picture of the structure of the bufotenine comound - one of the psychoactive ingredients in the venom of Bufo alvarius, or Colorado River Toad, or Sonoran Desert Toad
Bufotenine – a psychoactive ingredient in the venom of the Colorado River Toad



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
  • dissociation


  • overly intense experiences, fear, dysphoria, panic
  • nausea
  • sense of pressure in the body
  • difficulty integrating experiences

Source: Erowid.org – The effects of 5-MeO-DMT



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


Contrary to popular belief, licking Bufo alvarius can’t get anyone high (only hospitalised). The only way to enjoy the psychedelic effects of its venom is to “milk” the toad, dry the venom and smoke it.

IMPORTANT! The toad should be only milked by experienced individuals. If you do not have the requisite training or experience with amphibians, do not attempt to carry out the procedure on your own. It might hurt the toad, and animal cruelty is not something I promote on this blog!

To acquire its venom, the Bufo alvarius has to be “milked”. Milking in this particular case means, pressing its glands and collecting the venom they shoot out under pressure. Al Most presents a fine guide for milking the Bufo alvarius in his Psychedelic Toad of the Sonoran Desert pamphlet from the ’80s. I’ll include it here, with illustrations.

“Half-a-gram to a gram or more of fresh venom can be collected from a large adult specimen of B. alvarius. Half of this weight is water and evaporates upon drying. But, as much as fifteen per cent of the dry weight is the predominant alkaloid, 5-MEO-DMT. In other words, one large toad yielding one gram of fresh venom may equal as much as seventy-five milligrams of potent hallucinogen.

Fresh venom can easily be collected without harm to the toad. Use a flat glass plate or any other smooth non-porous surface at least twelve inches square. Hold the toad in front of the plate, which is fixed in a vertical position. In this manner, the venom can be collected on the glass plate, free of dirt and liquid released when the toad is handled.

When you are ready to begin, hold the toad firmly with one hand and, with thumb and forefinger of your other hand, squeeze near the base of the gland until the venom squirts out of the pores and onto the glass plate. Use this method to systematically collect the venom from each of the toad’s granular glands: those on the forearm, those on the tibia and femur of the hind leg and, of course, the parotoids on the neck.

An illustration to milking a Bufo alvarius (Sonoran desert toad)
Hold the Colorado river toad like this to obtain its venom

An illustration to milking to Colorado river toad's poison glands.
The venom glands of the Colorado river toad


Each gland can be squeezed a second time for an additional yield of venom if you allow the toad a one hour rest period. After this, the glands are empty and require four to six weeks for regeneration.”

I also found one single video on Youtube about the milking of Bufo alvarius (it’s a bit gross, but interesting – this much venom from that small toad!). Check it out below!


The effects of smoking the dried toad venom are described as a short, but profound psychedelic experience with a mild lingering euphoria for an additional hour or so. However, psychedelics are not for everyone and psychedelic experiences are not always pleasant!

As the substance is derived from an animal, concentrations of the psychoactive components in the venom can vary from specimen to specimen. However, in his book “Legally Stoned”, Todd Thies writes that 20 to 100 milligrams should be a good dosage to start with.

Source: Legally Stoned by Todd Thies



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.”

Source: Bufo alvarius: The Psychedelic Toad of the Sonoran Desert, Alert Most, 1983


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.”



If you find this Bufo alvarius guide useful please give it a “+1”:

Thank you! It helps my website a lot.


Share your own trip report in the comment section below (to ensure anonymity don’t use your real name or real email address when submitting trip reports)!

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.

Simon's Bufo Alvarius Guide
Article Name
Simon's Bufo Alvarius Guide
This is a Colorado river toad guide. It focuses on the health effects, "milking", dosage of the sonoran desert toad excretion and more.

One thought on “Simon’s Bufo Alvarius (Colorado River Toad) Guide”

  1. Thankyou for this Simon x my 2 experiances have been life changing and l love and respect the spirit of this sacred animal x lm comming to LA in july and very much want to connect with the toads on a deeper level and wonder if you can give me any pointers on were l could go and meet them and learn more x
    Im fom uk x

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