The drug addicts, the pet shop boys and a tale of missing toads

Stolen toads at risk and could poison thieves

source: Isabel Conway
Independent December 10 2002 p10

Three Bufo marinus, or South American cane toads, have been stolen from a specialist pet store in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, and police fear that the toads may be abused by drug addicts wanting to get high by licking the toads' backs. The toads can grow up to 30 centimetres in length, and exude a venom when frightened. The milky liquid can cause hallucinations, which is what the addicts seek, but it is also a venom which can paralyse human hearts, cause swollen tongues, and attack human nervous systems. There have been reports that toads have been taken to drug addict hostels for the purpose of licking them. This involves frightening the toads. Bufo marinus toads also need special care, such as high humidity and warm daytime temperatures, so their lives are at risk if they are kept by people ignorant of their needs.