If you have any social media account, such as Instagram or TikTok, I’m sure you saw many viral videos of funny animals from all around the world. Since the start of the pandemic, TikTok has had a huge increase in popularity and the latest statistics from January this year indicate that there are 689 million monthly active users in the global state.
The hashtag animals now have over 65 billion views, which makes it one of the most popular hashtags on this app.
3 Pet Accounts, Million People Influenced
Recently I did research about most viewed TikTok animal accounts, where the owners made creative and entertaining content with their pets as leading stars.
The numbers speak for themselves – the most popular account is @KodyAntle and his safari animals now have 28,2 million followers. @Jiffpom is a famous Pomeranian dog and the main entertainment for 20,8 million followers, while the most famous ferrets are those from the account @floofnoodles which now has 15,7 million followers.
Safari Life from Tiger King Series
Kody Antle (@KodyAntle) is the son of Doc Antle, who founded and directs The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.). Kody is an animal trainer with the nickname “real-life Tarzan” and he is head of Myrtle Beach Safari, which I’m sure you saw on the popular Netflix series “Tiger King“.
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For most of us, it looks impossible to walk around those big wildlife animals, but Kody and the rest of the trainers on the Safari prove otherwise. It is fascinating how the animals are trained to listen, while their trainers can pet them easily and safely.
We can’t help but wonder about this unusual connection between wild animals and humans, and how exactly they are trained. Especially since we all know that wild animals have the freedom and independence in their genes.
You’re Sure This Dog Is Not A Toy?
I’m pretty sure you saw Jiffpom (@jiffpom) Pomeranian dog all over the internet. And that is not surprising because, at the moment, he is the most followed animal on social media. Jiffpom holds two Guinness World Records for speed and he appeared in Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” music video.
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Most of the content on the account includes tricks and videos with cute dog outfits. The owner is serving the daily dose of sweetness and filming everything the dog is doing. Sometimes I wonder – do dogs even like to be filmed that much or do we simply annoy them with camera flash?
Ferrets As Dancing Puppets
Last but not least, we have an account called Floofnoodles (@floofnoodles). The owner of this account enjoys making different types of videos where he moves the ferrets to show their dance moves. The most famous videos are those where ferrets wear cute outfits and “act” like chefs.
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During the filming and most of the time, ferrets are licking their mouths which certainly couldn’t go unnoticed by all the followers. They’re thinking that the reason for such behavior is the treats the owner is giving the animals to keep them calm during the video.
Those videos encouraged me to research the topic and to arouse awareness about the actions people do only to get more likes and follows.
Forced Pets’ Movements Just For Likes & Views
Positive and entertaining videos impact our mood and boost the system with serotonin but the same actions don’t need to have the same impact on the pets.
So we can’t help but wonder if they may affect pets in a bad way – unnatural movements, dress-ups, placing the camera in their faces, and flashlights are not a part of their usual routine nor life. Can the problem be only in the people’s egoistic thoughts?
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Mentioned accounts from our article have different types of content, but one thing in common – they have very popular pets and they’re making a lot of money because of the content they’re creating.
So what does that mean? Constantly filming and making creative videos so people can keep up with their entertainment. There is a big difference between making videos that pet owners share on social media and those types of accounts where their pets are in some way “forced” to do different things so they can stay in trend.
When The Limit Of Freedom Is Crossed
Even if our pets are our “property”, many people really take them for granted and act like those animals need to behave as they want. Most of them are trained to get a treat after they “do the job” which basically means that it’s easy to manage their behavior.
@kodyantle@myrtlebeachsafari♬ Into The Thick Of It! – The Backyardigans
Freedom In The Genes, Chains In Everyday Life
We can take the examples from our article and start with a KodyAntle. Even if we know that the animals on Safari are trained and have a special bond with their trainers, is there a line where the freedom of those wild animals is crossed?
Tigers with heavy chains who calmly walk while they’re near their trainers are something that is trained for a long time. But isn’t freedom written in their genes?
Are These Outfits Even Comfortable?
On the other side, there is a cute Pomeranian dog who is known all across the world. When the dog has a cute outfit it immediately catches attention but could we really know if the dog is comfortable wearing it? Perhaps, the type of material might be very itchy and irritate to the skin?
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It is easy to read the facial expressions of a dog, and this Pomerian pet looks really happy in every video. We can’t say it is fake, but on the other hand, we can’t be sure that he isn’t trained to stay calm because of the prize that he is waiting for – the treats.
Trained For The Treats
The last-mentioned account is the owner of ferrets who creates different content for their followers. Ferrets are energetic and they require a lot of freedom. The unusual movements and different types of videos are calmly done only because of the treats which are given to the animals before filming and by their owner.
@floofnoodlesDo you remember me? ##foryou 🤗 ##ferret ##dancing♬ original sound – Floofnoodles
Lack Of Education And Wrong Information
Wrong information can be a big problem for society because millions of followers use social media not only for entertainment but for education as well. Maybe there aren’t enough educational materials online so people think they’re doing a good job taking care of the animals?
Perhaps, but that’s the thing – before taking in any pet, people need to read a lot of content on the animal’s normal behavior, healthy diet, and everyday care. Then again, can we blame the lack of educational materials or lack of interest to learn before taping the video?
The biggest problem is that people tend to buy or adopt animals once they see how cute and fancy they look in videos. They want to buy such animals because they think they are trendy and a possible source of income if presenting they as social media entertainment.
But there is a bigger problem which summarizes all the things that are mentioned before – the lack of education.
We can also take the example of the owner of @floofnoodles. The most popular videos are the ones where he is wiggling the ferrets, which can have a really bad influence on their body. Do you think the owner thought for a second if his pet feels comfortable doing those movements, or likes are more important?
@floofnoodlesProb losing followers Bc of showing my face but do what is best for u. 🙂 ##ferret ##shakira♬ sonido original – BTS
Owner Behavior Is Not Always Right
Sometimes even banal things can cause a lot of trouble in the future for the new pet owners. In the video down below, he mentioned how ferrets don’t have a spine, which is big misinformation for the new owners.
@floofnoodlesDo u have a pet? Which type of pet? #ferret #dancing#fyp #pets♬ the real sorority check – elizabeth the first
The situation that was even more disturbing was when he went to a pet shop and brought ferrets too close to the small animals, which, in the ferrets’ natural environment, present their food. Also, ferrets can cause stress to those small animals since they can smell a predator in their surroundings.
Besides, the owner gives them different types of food like sweets, ice cream, and fruits, which can cause a lot of damage to their digestive system, since they are carnivores. Those are the examples that show how is not everything you see on Tiktok right way to behave.
We can’t imagine how much other misleading information is on social media but what we know for sure is that it can really affect pets and animals in a bad way.
Increased Number Of Pet Abandonment In Last Year
There are tons of examples on social media with wrong educational material which can cause a lot of problems for the new pet owners. A lot of TikTok users are children under 18 years and I’m sure they adore pets. In many cases, they probably asked their parents for adoption, especially regarding some exotic animal like a ferret.
After the owners realize that animals are not behaving as on videos, there is a big possibility they will abandon the pet and leave it in a shelter or on the street. Shelters all over the world noticed an increase in the number of adopted but also abandoned pets (link), and one of the main reasons for that is surely the way society interprets the content on social media.
Words Of Expert
To present a real source of information, I contacted one of the ferret experts, Anja from FriendlyFerret, so we can hear her opinion about the whole social media situation. She is a ferret owner for more than 10 years with a lot of educational articles on her blog. She was also a judge in many different competitions.
Ferrets are very loving creatures, but most of them don’t like cuddles, they love to run around. If you want to hold a ferret, you should do it in under 5 seconds or the ferret will start kicking, demanding to be released so he can continue dancing and jumping.
This account has tons of videos where different ferrets are “dancing” and licking. They are licking because the owner gives them treats to keep them calm enough to do what he wants with them.
I can assure you that his ferrets wouldn’t be so cooperative without the treat. Yes, ferrets are flexible, they appear like they don’t have spines, but that doesn’t mean you can pick the ferret up and start spinning his body around. Ferrets don’t like that because it is not as comfortable as it looks. This is not just the stress on the body, it is stress on the ferret’s mind too.
Also, you can be sure that those videos take time to make, which means ferrets eat a lot of treats (not a good option). Giving your ferret treats is a great way for a good ferret owner to cut ferret’s nails, clean his ears or check his overall health. But, giving a ferret “a bribe” to do something just for the sake of views and popularity on social media is something I do not approve of.
Treats should be given in small amounts, occasionally or they lose their meaning. Not to mention giving too many treats can harm a ferret’s health, especially if you are giving ones with sugar. I know that those videos look adorable and it makes people want a pet ferret, but this is a wrong approach to introducing an animal to the public.
Ferrets are getting more and more popular each day, but the problem is that people don’t do research about them. They get a ferret, realize that they aren’t that easy to handle, and decide to give it up for adoption.
In the last few months, I have got numerous questions on my blog about adopting ferrets. But, not from people wanting to adopt a ferret, from people wanting to give it away and that is devastating.
The whole society can be held responsible for this situation. We encouraged creators of these and similar accounts to constantly make new videos so we can be entertained, and sometimes we don’t know the truth behind the scenes. There were also many cases of animal abuse, which doesn’t get that much attention online because everyone wants to distance themselves from the problem since it’s “none of their business.” Next time you follow someone and watch their videos, ask yourself – does this owner educate the audience and give them a good example or is it a type of cyberbullying of the pets?