Everybody knows frog legs are a delicacy in many cuisines worldwide but are toads edible too? Some exotic meat sellers report increased demand for toads. While it’s true that toads are quite gross with toxic skin, it doesn’t stop thrill-seekers from eating wild animals.
According to ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), toads are considered poisonous and aren’t safe to eat. However, most toads found in the United States are mildly toxic. Toads skin has secretions that can cause dramatic and sometimes fatal reactions.
Despite their toxicity, toads are consumed in parts of Asia and Australia and can be somewhat safe if correctly prepared.
This short guide will go through the risks of consuming toads and ways to prepare them safely. Make sure you’re aware of the risks before eating toads for the first time. Because it’s a high-risk decision, I recommend trying toads only at restaurants where they serve high-quality, safe food.
What Happens if You Eat Toads? Are Toads Safe to Eat?
Eating toads isn’t safe because they can secrete a toxic substance. Depending on the species and quantity of poison ingested, toads can trigger severe reactions and death. Plus, some toad species are legally protected, and owning the wrong type of toad can lead to legal trouble.
All toads have glands behind their eyes that secrete different toxins. Eating q toad can expose you to harmful substances, causing serious reactions such as irregular heartbeat, vomiting, seizures, convulsions, paralysis, and even death.
However, not all toads are toxic to humans. That’s because toads secrete different toxins depending on their species which can cause more or less serious reactions in humans.
Edible Toad Species
Can You Eat Cane Toads?
Yes, cane toads are edible and can be safely prepared for human consumption. Since cane toads are highly common in Australia, some local restaurants are hoping to turn them into a delicacy to control the population. Some survivalists have turned to consuming toads when nothing else is available in difficult situations. But overall, eating toads can be high-risk.
How to Safely Prepare Cane Toads?
Our favorite method involves freezing the toad so that it is relaxed at the time of death and minimizing the chance of toxins spreading through its body.
The dead cane toad can then be thawed and rinsed in salty water before removing its legs for cooking.
When prepared correctly to avoid poisoning, people usually consume toad leg meat only or toad leg meat. The rest of the toad’s body, including the skin, is not suitable for human consumption.
Like frog legs, you can serve toad legs fried, boiled, steamed, sautéed, grilled, smoked, in porridge, or an Asian-infused salad. Toads are consumed in different parts of the world, including the United States, for survival purposes.
What do Toads Taste Like?
The warty-skinned cane toads don’t taste as bad as one might think. Once you cook cane toads properly, there’s nothing slimy or disgusting about them. While cane toads aren’t strong-flavored, they can pick up a marinade well. For example, toads cooked in garlic taste garlicky, and there’s nothing particularly slimy about them.
Poisonous and Illegal Toad Species
Most toad species, except for cane toads, are toxic. You also need to make sure you aren’t cooking any illegal toad species. For example, the Colorado River Toad is a legally protected toad species, and possessing this species can lead to arrest. This toad’s toxins contain 5MeO-DMT, and their population is in decline due to the illegal drug trade (CTNF).
Even if you find an edible toad species you can legally capture, having the know-how to prepare them safely is crucial. And if you only have access to small toads, you will need to cook more quantities to have a decent meal. This can lead to more risk of not preparing them safely and getting sick.
Yet toads are safely consumed by many Asians, Australians, and survivalists. Let’s look at the risks of eating toads if you have no other options.
Risks of Eating Toads
Here’s why you should not eat toads frequently.
Massive toxic residues from agrochemicals biomagnified in the food chain get accumulated in fat deposits of toads. Continuous consumption of toads could trigger paralytic strokes, cancers, kidney failures, and other deformities.
Frog Vs. Toads – Which is Poisonous?
The primary difference between frogs and toads is that most toads are poisonous, while frogs are not. Toads contain parotoid glands behind their eyes that secrete toxins. According to the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, you can come into contact with the poison if you touch the toad’s skin.
Most of these toxins are mild to humans, but you should wash your hands thoroughly after handling a toad.
Identifying Poisonous and Non-Poisonous Toads
Eating toads comes down to personal choice. Many toad species have toxins that will make you sick if consumed. If you choose to eat a toad, understand the risks involved. It also helps to go to a reputable exotic restaurant with experts who know how to properly handle and cook a toad to minimize the chances of poisoning.