This Aussie Video Of Snake Venom Milking Is Going Insanely Viral On TikTok
An Australian reptile park is going viral on TikTok, a platform with more than 500 million global active monthly users, you may have never heard about.
The Australian Reptile Park in the Central Coast region of NSW recently posted a video of a venom extraction to the platform.
"These are the third most toxic snake on the planet," the handler said, as he tricked the Coastal Taipan into biting through the plastic by waggling his finger as bait.
"Use that finger as a target, because they're not stupid. They don't want to bite the jar, they want to bite me."
The handler -- Zac Bower, head of venom at the Australian Reptile Park -- appears fearless as his bare fingers ensure the snake's venom fills a few millilitres of the jar.
"That would be enough to kill about a hundred people my size," Bower said.
It's unusual in the broader offerings of TikTok videos, but it's exploded on the platform: has 770k 'hearts', which work like Instagram likes. To put that in perspective, user Loren Grey -- who, at 31 million followers, is one of the most popular TikTok users -- averages about 500k hearts per video.
"It exploded," Australian Reptile Park's Rebecca Plumridge, who runs the TikTok account, told 10 daily.
"We had about 700 followers before that -- the next day it was about 120k."
At the time of writing, their follower count was approaching 160k.
Alright, I'll bite: what is TikTok?
At the risk of sounding a thousand years old, TikTok is a teen-dominated social media platform. Videos are up to 15-seconds long, often posted to music, invariably involve 'challenges' of some kind and usually have an element of performance about them.
Taylor Lorenz, who reports on social media and the internet for The Atlantic, curates what she calls "Grade A TikToks", to give you some idea about what kind of videos are popular (lip syncing is big, as are comedy sketches).
TikTok's predecessor was Musical.ly, an almost identical app launched in 2014 by Chinese entrepreneurs Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang. It was acquired for around U.S. $1 billion in November 2017 by tech company ByteDance, and last July, surpassed half a billion global monthly users.
While some celebrities are active on there -- Jimmy Fallon has a big presence, and Tony Hawk has posted a total of three videos -- it's mostly a celeb-free presence, allowing normal teens to thrive.
Late last year the New York Times said it might just be "the only truly pleasant social network in existence".
Brands, by and large, have yet to jump on, so no one is trying to sell you anything (like Instagram), and there's less ability to 'pile-on' on particular users if they step out of line (like Twitter).
"It’s that rarest of internet creatures: a place where people can let down their guards, act silly with their friends and sample the fruits of human creativity without being barraged by abusive trolls or algorithmically amplified misinformation," NY Times tech columnist Kevin Roose said.
The Australian Reptile Park is a bit of an anomaly, by both being on the platform in the first place, and then by succeeding at it. Zoos and aquariums around the world have embraced social media, but are yet to delve in to TikTok.
"It came from us deciding as a business to give social media a fair crack," Plumridge said.
"Part of that is seeing what the latest trends are. We saw TikTok was going crazy, so we decided to give it a go."
Part of their success is down to understanding and experimenting with the platform, she said, but it's also the unique content.
"I literally don't see any other wildlife sanctuaries on there," she said -- although as brands realise there's a captive audience on the platform, that could well change.
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