After covering which animals tend to get high themselves, let’s have a look at what animals can get people high, in our Top 10 Animals That Can Get You High.
Table of Contents
1) Colorado River Toad
It is a common urban legend that licking the back of a toad can get you high. In case you ever stared at a random toad by a pond you came across, compulsively wondering whether it is worth taking a lick, I got to disappoint you, though.
Firstly, there is only one toad species that hold large quantities of bufotenin (also known as 5-HO-DMT), a chemical related to the neurotransmitter serotonin, in large enough quantities to make a psychoactive effect possible. Secondly, you will not get at this substance via licking the toad!
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In small doses, bufotenin is found in the eggs and poison of several species of toad, but it is the Colorado River toad, also known as the Sonoran Desert toad, that can be crowned the psychoactive toad – congratuations!
This toad lives northern Mexico and the southwest of the USA. As its two common names show, it enjoys deserts and semi-arid habitats, but prefers staying close to rivers and springs.
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The infamous toxins are found in paratoid glands, folds of skin on its back, neck and shoulders. Rather than being extracted simply by licking the toad, the area must be squeezed for the toxins to come out. Bufotenin can be consumed in various ways. In 2001, botanist Jonathan Ott conducted a study in which he tested the effects on himself by sniffing bufotenin, inhaling and smoking it, and ingesting it orally in capsules.
Depending on dose and method of consumption, the effects range from an altered vision including a shimmering glow to the world, hallucinations of swirling colors, tinnitus, and a heightened blood pressure. Bufotenin is also used as an aphrodisiac
The common depiction of toads in native mesoamerican art suggests that humans have been aware of its psychoactive qualities for centuries.
2) Tree Frogs
There are several species of frog that are known to secrete potent toxins, most famously the poison dart frogs. When it comes to psychoactive toxins, you want to go for poison tree frogs of the Phyllomedusa genus, especially the bicolour tree frog, also known as giant monkey frog, native to Bolivia, Brasil, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela.
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The secretion of its skin is called Kambo or Sapo and contains opioid peptides which have similar effects to those of opium. Since it is mostly known for inducing intense vomiting, it has been often used in traditional cleansing rituals during which the tree frog secretion is applied to a fresh burn wound where it enters the body directly.
The idea of psychoactive substances in the liver and marrow of giraffes first came into public knowledge in the 1950s via the article of an anthropologist studying the Humr people native to Sudan. After a successful hunt, they used a giraffe’s liver and bone marrow to produce a drink called umm nyolokh with apparently hallucinogenic qualities.
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Weirdly enough, this drink made from giraffes seems to predominantly result in hallucinations of giraffes, which might be simply the result of giraffe hunters having mainly this animal on their minds.
The existence of this substance is controversial, since mammals usually do not have toxic substances in their bodily tissue. Some people theorize that it might be the result of giraffes eating toxic plants like acacias, which contain psychoactive substances, that are then stored in the giraffes’ livers.
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4) Fire Salamanders
The fire salamander secretes an extremely toxic alkaloid commonly called samandarine. When consumed in high doses, it leads to convulsion, respitory failure, and, eventually, death. Even just touching a salamander will irritate the skin and when an average-sized dog happens to eat a salamander, it will die of the poison.
The risk of death has never deterred humans in search of a high, though. In the case of the fire salamander, Slovenian salamander brandy has achieved near-mythical status as a psychedelic drink.
The first article to describe salamander brandy in depth appeared in 1995. Slovenian writer Blaz Ogorevc described this concoction as a drink that apparently has highly psychedelic qualities and can cause spontaneous sexual attraction to inanimate objects.
His depictions were spread via various publications and word of mouth – unfortunately, not many people who quoted Ogorevc realised that his article had been published in a satirical magazine and therefore consisted mainly of exaggerations with only loose ties to reality.
This does not mean that there is no such thing as salamander brandy, though. In 2003, anthropologist Miha Kozorog wrote about his attempts to attain this mythical drink. His informants talked to him about dried salamanders that are sometimes used in the distillation process – as opposed to the live salamanders that are being drowned in the distillation methods Ogorevc described.
The hallucinogenic effects are likely an exaggeration, too. Rather, salamander brandy – or schnapps – is simply an extremely strong alcoholic drink that will leave you feeling ill for days afterwards.
Many cobras in the species naja have strong neurotoxic venom. The chemicals in snake venom are generally seen as too dangerous for human consumption. Still, since they mainly attack the cardiovascular systems, they have also helped researchers develop blood pressure drugs.
Snake venom is also sometimes used by addicts as a substitute for other substances they cannot acquire at the moment.
Like snake venom, the venom of scorpions is sometimes used by addicts to substitute for heroin or opium. Getting stung by a scorpion is painful, but in most cases, not deadly. A mild reaction to scorpion venom leads to shaking, sweating, and agitation; a raised heart rate, fever, and rapid breathing are signs of a moderate reaction. In severe cases, scorpion venom leads to mental confusion, organ failure, and a coma.
Nevertheless, there are various methods in which drug users consume this venom recreationally. A scorpion can be dried and then burnt so that the resulting smoke can be inhaled, or the burnt tail is mixed with hashish and tobacco to be smoked in a cigarette.
Some dealers also let their clients pay for having their hands or feet stung by a scorpion. After an initial very painful reaction, the experience is supposed to change into a floating feeling. No matter in which way scorpion venom is consumed, it leads to addiction very quickly.
A variety of fish have hallucinogenic qualities, namely fish from the eight families of clownfish, goatfish, groupers, mullet, rabbitfish, sea breams, sea chubs, and surgeonfish.
When eating these kinds of fish raw, the results can be very vivid and terrifying visual and auditory hallucinations, the loss of balance and coordination, depression and nightmares. These scary arrays of symptoms can last up to 24 hours; the nightmares often only fade after three nights.
Recreational and purposeful consumption of psychedelic fish goes back to ancient times and is reflected in the traditional names of some species: The sea bram is known as “the fish that makes dreams” in Arab and a species of goatfish is called “chief of the ghosts” on certain Hawaiian islands.
Most experiences with hallucinogenic fish happen accidentally, though, and are all the more scary for it.
8) Sea Sponges
Not many people even know that sponges are animals rather than plants, but even though they are primitive animals, thanks to molecular data scientists can show that they have evolved from the same common ancestor as more complex animals.
They produce chemicals that are toxic flame retardants, which used to be used in the production of mattresses and furniture before their health risks, like an increased risk of developing cancer, were discovered.
Paradoxically, the substances that sea sponges secrete can also be used in anti-cancer, anti-AIDS and other medicinal drugs. They also have psychedelic qualities. Their medicinal and recreational use is made difficult by sponges being a finite resource that is also not easily harvested.
Red harvester ants have long been used in Native American medicine and religious rituals. When ingested in large quantities, the ants, usually eaten alive, produce a catatonic state accompanied by hallucinations. After the ritual, the participant drank hot water to induce vomiting.
In smaller quantities, these ants were also used to help with physical pain and stomach troubles.
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Now, do not start munching and crunching on bees! The drug they produce is, of course, honey. That does not mean that the toast with butter and honey you just had for breakfast will get you high, though there is a bit more to it.
The most well-known way of consuming honey to get inebriated is mead, or honey wine, which in its most basic form is made of honey and water fermented by yeast, but it is often flavored with spices or fruits. While for a long time, it was mainly a staple at Renaissance Faires or pagan metal concerts, it has become more popular in the mainstream during recent years.
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Depending on what kind of nectar bees have been snacking on, their honey can have psychoactive and/or inebriating effects. Records of enjoying the effects of inebriating honey goes back to the Ancient Greeks and the Mayans.