Name Your Poison

Reminder:  You can enlarge any of the photos in this blog by clicking on it.  Click again for a full screen image.

A couple of days ago I posted some images of a Tiger Rattlesnake.  I hear people refer to rattlesnakes all the time as “poisonous snakes.”  That’s incorrect.  A poison is a substance that is toxic when it is ingested.  Rattlesnakes are not poisonous.  Some restaurants serve rattlesnake meat (I hear that it’s not very good) and even rattlesnake venom can be ingested without causing harm unless one has a sore in his or her mouth or an ulcer in his or her stomach.  Rattlesnakes are venomous, meaning that they produce a substance that is harmful when injected into tissue, as occurs with a snakebite.

Now, that distinction drawn, here’s a poisonous creature.

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This is a Sonoran Desert Toad, a/k/a Colorado River Toad, that I photographed a couple of weeks ago in Sabino Canyon.  These fascinating amphibians spend the vast majority of their lives buried in soil in a state of dormancy.  A little bit of rain, however, a few puddles, and they emerge to breed and feed frantically, albeit only for a day or two, before becoming dormant again.

They are extremely poisonous.  The large swelling behind the toad’s eye is a gland that produces a highly toxic substance, sufficiently so, that it can kill a dog or a coyote foolish enough to attempt to kill and eat this animal.  My understanding is that among the effects of toad poison is that it is hallucinogenic.  There are stories of very foolish people deliberately licking these creatures in order to get high.  I definitely wouldn’t recommend that.

Photo taken with a Canon 5Diii, 180 f3.5L Macro Lens, ISO 200, “M” setting, assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, f11 @ 1/200.

2 responses to “Name Your Poison”

  1. Liesl Kii says :

    Many thanks for the advice NOT to lick this toad! One cannot be too cautious. This is a great photo of a very modest looking creature.

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