Social Media Star Tiptoe the Palisadian Tortoise Featured in Coloring Book
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
It takes two to tango, and Palisadian Caitlin Doran and her tortoise Tiptoe are proving to be one terrific team.
In less than a year, Doran and Tiptoe have attracted 3.5 million followers on the popular social media platform TikTok and an additional 80,000 on Instagram—in fact, the pair has released the “A Day in the Life of Tiptoe Coloring Book,” a “must-have for Tiptoe lovers of all ages and artistic abilities,” now available on Etsy.
Since Doran started their TikTok account last July they have become “celebrities” of sorts, although she confessed she initially had no inclination that might happen.
“I was 7 years old when I got Tiptoe,” she recalled. “I had asked for him for Christmas. I named him ‘Tiptoe’ because when he walks he goes up on his tip toes.”
Tiptoe is not only famous on the internet, but around the neighborhood too. He and Doran are frequently stopped by people on their morning walk around the block in the Alphabet Streets.
The pair’s first video generated nearly 11 million views and prompted Doran to create more.
“I got the idea to start posting videos in July 2020,” Doran said. “I’d seen people create videos about what they make their kids [to eat] and thought it’d be fun to show what I make Tiptoe. I posted a TikTok about what Tiptoe eats in a day, the video blew up and I’ve been sharing snippets of our lives ever since. It’s gone super well, and we’ve met Dixie D’Amelio, Matt James and other TikTok influencers.”
Tiptoe first graced the pages of the Palisadian-Post in a piece penned by Junior Reporter Gavin Alexander. Since that piece was published, Tiptoe and Doran have amassed over one million additional followers.
Tiptoe was recently featured on TikTok eating “nature’s cereal,” a vegan dish that includes an assortment of berries served in coconut water made popular across the app by singer/songwriter Lizzo. Another recent video on the TikTok page shows Doran treating Tiptoe to a spa day, complete with hibiscus flowers (Tiptoe’s favorite), cucumber and sunbathing.
A proud fifth-generation Palisadian, Doran matriculated through Palisades Charter Elementary School, Paul Revere Charter Middle School and Palisades Charter High School. The 24-year-old has an undergraduate degree in special education and rehab, and a master’s in special education and applied behavior analysis. She is presently studying for her BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) certification. Her brother Jake is three years older.
“My studies keep me busy,” she admitted. “I also spend a lot of time cooking in the kitchen. I love living in the Palisades because my whole family is here. My go-to restaurant is Casa Nostra.”
Tiptoe is a 19-year-old sulcata tortoise, also known as an African spurred tortoise—one of the largest tortoise species in the world. When Santa brought him to the Palisades he was barely 3 months old and half the size of a flashcard. He has grown steadily since that time and now weighs close to 180 pounds. He is expected to live anywhere from 80 to 120 years.
“He is with me for life,” Doran said happily.
Tiptoe’s diet consists of 75% grass and hay. The other 25% is greens, vegetables and fruit. It costs upward of $80 per month to feed him. Since he was 7, he has had an enclosure outside with plenty of space to strut his stuff.
“We feed him grass and hay every day, and he gets his veggies once a week,” Doran explained. “Fruit is high in sugar so is only used as a treat, which he gets a few times per month. He eats about the size of his shell in hay and grass every day. His favorite foods are strawberries and watermelon. He doesn’t get them too frequently but he absolutely loves them.”
Doran keeps her content family-friendly, positive and educational, which is why so many people—young and old alike—are watching her videos.
“The coolest part about having a tortoise is being able to share him with everyone,” she said. “We get such great reactions from people when they meet Tiptoe, and he always puts a smile on people’s faces. I also have a pit bull named Grace and a veiled chameleon named Randall. If I let Grace into Tiptoe’s enclosure he’ll try to chase her. It’s so fun to watch.”
On TikTok alone Doran has done over 110 videos and counting. Tiptoe’s star is on the rise, and if he gets any more popular, he may need to hire an agent.
There is a limited-edition collection of Tiptoe merch available as well, including T-shirts, hoodies and a “Tiptote” tote bag emblazoned with an image of the tortoise in the center of some of his favorite treats.
“A Day in the Life of Tiptoe Coloring Book” is now available via Etsy for purchase or digital download.
“We could not be happier with how everything turned out and we absolutely could not have done this without the beautiful, amazing, talented artists involved,” Doran wrote in a post on Instagram.
A portion of proceeds from the coloring book will benefit Ben’s Bells, which has a mission to “teach individuals and communities about the positive impacts of intentional kindness and to inspire people to practice kindness as a way of life,” according to Doran. She shared in the post that the organization is close to her heart, as she volunteered with them throughout her time in college.
“We plan to continue to make TikTok videos and collaborate with other creators,” Doran said about the future. “[Tiptoe] doesn’t have any tricks per say but we’re working on getting him to come to us when we call his name and wave at him. We haven’t been on any shows yet, but who knows? Maybe in the future.”
For more information, including a link to purchase the coloring book, find Doran and Tiptoe on TikTok and Instagram @caitlinandtiptoe.
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