No, people aren’t licking toads in national parks |

No, people aren’t licking toads in national parks

Humorous Halloween post intended to warn people not to mess with wildlife was taken a little too literally by news outlets across the country

Jason Blevins
The Colorado Sun
A National Park Service employee photographed this Sonoran desert toad at the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
National Park Service/Courtesy photo

It’s hard to find a warning issued by the National Park Service that gained more traction. Too bad it was completely fabricated.

The agency’s Oct. 31 Facebook post imploring visitors to “please refrain from licking” the large Sonoran desert toad common in the Southwest echoed across thousands of news outlets. Google “park service toad licking” and you get 1.7 million hits. Tens of thousands of news outlets — including the most prestigious in the world — repeated the warning. 

But a records request of agency employee reports detailing any and all interactions between park property visitors and the toads yielded zero records. 

The Facebook post “was not prompted by any specific incident,” said Park Service FOIA Officer Charis Wilson, who visited with staff in the office that made the original Facebook post.

The post described the Sonoran desert toad, also known as the Colorado river toad, as one of the largest toads found in North America and described its croak as a “weak low-pitched toot lasting less than a second.”


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