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Sonoran Desert Toad21 locationsReptile/Amphibian
.: ASUAviator :.
Aug 23 2012
St Clair Mountain
.: sirena :.
Jun 26 2010
Sabino Canyon Road
FamilyBufonidae - Toads
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Incilius Bufo alvarius

Common Names: Colorado River Toad

Habitat:May be found near permanent water, but may also be found miles from water during the Summer Monsoons. Found throughout Southern Arizona with the exception of the higher elevation Mountains and arid Western Deserts. Found in valleys up to low level Mountain elevations below 5800 feet. When not active in the Summer, they can be found in Rodent Burrows or other underground retreats.

Description:Their smooth skin sometimes mistakes them for Frogs, but the elongated glands on their neck and back legs and the cranial crest tell them apart. Olive Green/Brown skin with juveniles having small, dark orange-tipped spots on back.

Comments:Nocturnal Toads that will eat anything that will fit in their mouth. The glands in their skin produce a toxin that can be lethal to Dogs. They generally appear approximately a month before the Monsoon Season, if there is permanent water available, otherwise they do not appear until the Seasonal Rains. Contrary to their other common name, they have all but disappeared from the Colorado River and Southern California.

Source: Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona
Audubon Online Guides

Joe Bartels contributes: The Colorado River Toad or Bufo alvarius, also known as the Sonoran Desert Toad, is a psychoactive toad found in the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. The skin and venom of Bufo alvarius contain 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenin.

The Colorado River Toad is carnivorous, eating small rodents, insects, and small reptiles and other toad species; like many toads, they have a long, sticky tongue which aids them in catching prey. It lives in both desert and semi-arid areas throughout the range of its habitat. They are semi-aquatic and are often found in streams, near springs, and in canals and drainage ditches. They often make their home in rodent burrows and are nocturnal.

The toad generally breeds in small rain pools after the summer showers start; they spend approximately one month as yellowish-brown tadpoles before moving onto the land. They grow to be up to 4-7 inches long.

The toad's primary defense system is glands that produce a poison that is potent enough to kill a full grown dog. These parotoid glands also produce the 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenin for which the toad is known; both of these chemicals belong to the family of hallucinogenic tryptamines. The presence of these substances in the skin and poison of the toad produces psychoactive effects when smoked.

Bufotenine is a Schedule I controlled substance in the U.S. While possession of the toad is not a crime in itself (in Arizona, U.S.A., one may legally bag up to ten toads with a fishing license), it could constitute a criminal violation if it can be shown that one is in possession of this toad with the intent to milk and smoke its venom. In November 2007, a man in Kansas City was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance when police discovered B. alvarius toad poison in his possession.

It should also be noted that none of the states in which B. alvarius is (or was) indigenous - California, Arizona, and New Mexico - legally allow a person to remove the toad from the state. For example, the Arizona Department of Game and Fish is clear about the law in Arizona: "An individual shall not... export any live wildlife from the state; 3. Transport, possess, offer for sale, sell, sell as live bait, trade, give away, purchase, rent, lease, display, exhibit, propagate... within the state..."

In California, B. alvarius has been designated as "endangered" and possession of this toad is illegal as per "The Official California Code of Regulations, Title 14. Natural Resources Division 1., Subdivision 1., Chapter 5., § 40. General Provisions Relating to Native Reptiles and Amphibians. (a) General Prohibition It is unlawful to capture, collect, intentionally kill or injure, possess, purchase, propagate, sell, transport, import or export any native reptile or amphibian, or part thereof..."

In New Mexico, this toad is listed as "threatened" and, again, taking B. alvarius is unlawful.
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