The Sonoran Desert Toad also known as Bufo alvarius, Incilius alvarius, or Ollotis alvaria, is the largest occurring toad in North America. Other common names include Colorado River Toad, Sapo Grande, and the Toad of Light. With some reaching the width of a dinner plate, and weighing up to 2 lbs, it is a hardy survivor of the Sonoran Desert’s harsh conditions, and is considered to be the largest toad in North America. During the 2-4 month monsoon season, Bufo alvarius will consume as many insects, small birds and mammals, and any other creature small enough to fit in its mouth in order to survive the rest of the year hibernating in an underground burrow.
You might have heard about the Sonoran Desert Toad’s defense mechanism. It has a series of large “warts” all over its body that are packed with a powerful poison that can take out many of its predators. Someone a long time ago figured out a use for this milky white poison…
Through a “milking” process, the toad’s poisonous excretions can be extracted (without harm to the animal) and processed to make a crystalline form of 5-MeO-DMT–a powerful entheogenic medicine. This uncommon form of DMT has been known to cure a variety of mental ailments such as anxiety, clinical depression, and addictions. Famously, people have been freed of addictions to the worst of street drugs such as crack, heroin, and even meth–many times with just a single dose. The Comca’ac (Seri) tribal nation of Sonora, Mexico has had success in using this medicine to keep the sweeping menace of drug addiction in control in their community.
The natural range of B. alvarius was in the area of the Sonoran Desert–mainly southern Arizona, northern Sonora, a small eastern area on the California/Arizona border, and a western edge of New Mexico. Unfortunately, the toads’ numbers are declining rapidly (some estimate up to 40% loss within the past 12 years) due to several factors:
- Human cities continuing to expand and take over the natural desert
- Pesticides and other chemical use
- Introduced species competing for breeding grounds and/preying on the toads’ eggs
- Global warming
- Poaching(the unfortunate side-effect of the internet age)
Bufo alvarius has recently become extinct in California. Despite one of its common names, it hasn’t been observed on the Colorado River since about 2004. It is rarely seen in New Mexico as of late. In Arizona, where it once congregated in the thousands, in some places you might only see a few dozen.