“Wow, I just met a big dinosaur!”
Fans go gaga for Tiptoe, a hugely popular tortoise taking TikTok by storm. The exotic pet is slow-moving — but his account, “Caitlin and Tiptoe,” quickly grew to 3.9 million followers.
“He’s a very sassy, untrained 175-pound lump,” his caretaker, Los Angeles-based influencer Cailtin Doran told The Post. “He just has a mind of his own, and has his own ideas of how he wants his videos to go.”
The watermelon-munching turtle blew up online over the pandemic. This past summer during quarantine, Doran made a video — ”kind of as a joke” — cutting up Tiptoe’s food, which typically consists of fruits and veggies. Within an hour, the clip hit one million views on TikTok.
In March 2020, the tortoise owner had taken time off from her job working in behavior analytic services for children with autism — not realizing a global lockdown would derail her career. A ix of boredom and sadness eventually drove her to TikTok, and the rest is internet history.
“My friends really hyped me up, too,” she revealed, saying they encouraged her not to return to her other occupation. “Make this your job. Just go all in!’” they said.
Lucky for her, Tiptoe was an overnight success, and the hits keep coming. In August, Doran treated her star performer to a “spa day” complete with cucumber slices over his eyes and she “made it rain hibiscus” while the reptile soaked in a tiny pool. “The account grew so fast, it was so unexpected, but so cool to see the positive impact,” Doran said.
One TikTok commenter, Patty F., shared in March how the account has helped her: “I found Tiptoe during a very rough time in my life and every day I would see a video of him and smile and that made me remember that I was still capable of smiling despite the bad stuff.”
Along with more than 90,000 Instagram followers, Tiptoe is now a global empire. The photogenic pet has merchandise, including shirts featuring his favorite snacks such as strawberries and carrots. He also has his own coloring book, “A Day in the Life of Tiptoe.”
It’s hard to imagine this social media giant was once tiny. In 2001, when Caitlin was just 7 years old, the Doran family bought the future superstar for about $100. The pet store gave no warning that the tortoise would balloon in size.
Tiptoe was growing so fast that they tried taking him to a tortoise sanctuary — but it wasn’t the lap of luxury to which Tiptoe had grown accustomed, so they decided to keep him.
“Tiptoe lives a very spoiled and pampered life,” Doran admitted. He has his own pool and a “dog house,” a large yellow shed in the backyard with string lights. He starts every day with a warm-water bath. After that, the diva is taken to the front yard to dine on grass.
Unlike other celebrity pets, Tiptoe isn’t going anywhere fast. His species’ longevity is a big plus in the TikTok game. “We’re very lucky because a lot of other pet influencers … their animals, dogs, cats, they’re checking out at, like 15, tops.” Tiptoe’s lifespan, on the other hand, is 80 to 120 years.
“No matter what, he’ll be here my entire life,” Doran said. “I can literally make content of him until the day I die.”