Herpetofauna: One Life's List

Bufo alvarius
Sonoran Desert Toad

Catalina Mts., Arizona
July 30, 2000

After landing in Phoenix one August evening, we took a less traveled route to Tucson, to get in  some road cruising (Rule #1 - NEVER waste time that can be spent herping).  This toad was one of our first finds, and I was amazed at how big they were - it's one thing to read about them or see a picture, and quite another thing to pick one up and heft it in your hand! 

Note the large paratoid glands behind the eye and running over the ear - this is the species that "toad -lickers" lick!  Yes indeed, some of the more intelligent members of the human race will lick alvarius for the hallucinogenic effects, and alternatively, smoke the dried skins.  Some less intelligent humans aren't sure which species is the correct toad to lick, and so they lick any toad, and missing out on the visions, have to settle for simple poisoning and discomfort.

We saw a number of alvarius, but only at night - they spend the heat of the day hiding in holes and crevices, usually near a water source..  The one in the top picture was photographed on a night hike in a state park on the edge of Tucson, just above the surface of a temporary pool. The toad on the bottom was found crossing a highway near Sasabe, Arizona.






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