Police Hunt Hallucinogenic Toad Thief

Friday, December 06, 2002 10:10 a.m. ET
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch police are investigating whether drug addicts raided a pet shop and stole three exotic toads whose warty skin can induce hallucinations when licked.

The animals were snatched from a pet shop near a drug addicts' center in the city of Leeuwarden in the northeast of the Netherlands on Wednesday.

"There has been quite a bit of trouble with junkies and there is a drugs crisis center near the shop, so it is quite possible, naturally we are looking in that direction too," police spokesman Harry Oenema told Reuters.

"They are an exotic kind of toad that secrete a substance. If you lick them you may get a hallucination, comparable with a trip on LSD," he added.

The fist-sized brown cane toads, from the bufo marinus species, are originally from South America and secrete a toxin from glands on their necks and backs as a defense against predators. They have been introduced in Australia to combat a plague of greyback beetles.

Licking the toads can cause side effects like swelling of the tongue and temporary muscle paralysis, according to the pet shop owner.

Copyright 2002 Reuters Limited.