Why Do People Lick Frogs? Not Everyone's Trying to Find Prince Charming

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Jun. 22 2020, Updated 1:30 p.m. ET

what happens if you lick a frog
Source: Amazon

If you've ever watched the brutal Mel-Gibson-directed film Apocalypto then you probably learned more about killing people in the jungle than you've ever wanted to. Like setting up spiked booby traps, pissing off jaguars so they attack other people who happen to chase after you, or creating poison darts by dipping pointy pieces of wood in frog backs.

Well, if these frogs are used for killing people, then why do folks lick them, and what happens if you do?

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What happens if you lick a frog?

There's no all-encompassing answer to this question, so let's start as broadly as we can: it all depends on the kind of frog you're licking. If you lick a regular old frog covered in regular old mucus, then chances are you're just going to inconvenience and confuse the little amphibian, get some grossness on your tongue, and put yourself at risk for contracting salmonella. Not good.

poison dart frog
Source: Instagram
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Can licking a frog get you high?

Again, this depends on the frog that you're licking. If you're trying to experience a hallucinogenic trip, then you're actually looking for a toad to lick (toads are a subset of frogs, but it's important to make the distinction). You don't want to go licking colorful poison dart frogs though. No, their mucus flavor doesn't correspond to the color of their froggy skin, so just stay away.

There are also several species of toads, like the Australian Cane Toad, that can get you high if you smoke or ingest their secretions. However, consuming too much can kill you, which is why that particular act was made illegal in The Land Down Under. If you ask the most professional of hallucinogenic thrill seekers, they will probably tell you to steer clear of licking toads to get high — you're better off with LSD or shrooms instead.

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But if you are committed to learning which kinds of toads will have you trippin' balls, there are a few things you should know.

First off, the toxin you're looking for, and it is a toxin, to have the desired hallucinogenic effect is Bufotoxin, and only certain toads carry it. And how it's produced and its chemical makeup varies from toad to toad, which really complicates matters.

frog darts apocalypto
Source: Buena Vista Pictures
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The aforementioned Cane Toad doesn't pack too much of a psychedelic punch when compared to its other warty cousins, however, Colorado River and Sonoran Desert Toads have reportedly higher levels of bufotenine, which is classified as a controlled substance. You can purchase and own these jumpy little guys if you want, but if you start wiping those secretions off their backs and turning them into pills to peddle to folks, well, you could end up in a lot of trouble (sounds like a lot of work, too).

Licking frogs/toads can kill you.

Again, because we're dealing with animals here, it's difficult to know just how much bufotenine you ingested and the substance, even in small doses, can produce a variety of different effects on person to person leading to paralysis, cardiac arrest, and death.

Frog-licking thrill-seekers get the animals to secret the milky substance from their parotid glands by applying a bit of pressure behind their heads.

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This causes the gland to excrete the substance from their eardrum area and, depending on the last time the frog had to emit the stuff as a self-defense mechanism, could contain varying degrees of concentration.

Bufotenine contains the chemical 5-Me0-DMT, which is in the dimethylethanamine family. If you've listened to Joe Rogan's podcast, you've probably heard the comic talk about DMT. Bufotenine contains chemical components that are very similar to this drug.

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Although, the DMT chemical he's talking about is probably synthesized in a lab and contains none of the toxins that are present in the frog discharge some people lick to get high. If you're looking for a way to replicate the effects of LSD or DMT by licking frogs, there's a good, good chance you're going to have a bad time, so seriously, don't do it.

There's a reason why toads' bodies shoot the stuff out to keep predators away, and most animals have learned to steer clear from specific ones for fear of having a bad time trying to eat them. So learn from them and stay away from licking these hoppy little dudes.

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