Pet octopus family bought for nine-year-old son destroys their home

NEWS

One family didn’t realise buying a pet octopus for their young son would change their lives and home forever.

For nine-year-old Cal Clifford, from Oklahoma, US, his dream had always been to have his own pet.

Wanting a pet as a kid isn’t anything unusual, with most of us likely to have begged our parents for a cat or dog at some point in our childhoods.

But Cal wasn’t interested in getting a four-legged friend, with the young boy having his sights set on owning a pet octopus since he was three years old.

“Every birthday, every Christmas, every holiday, he would always say: ‘All I want is an octopus’,” dad Cameron Clifford, 36, told The New York Times.

The family had spent years indulging Cal’s interest by buying him a range of octopus-themed toys and clothing before finally deciding that he was old enough to care for a the animal itself.

On Cal’s ninth birthday his dream finally came true, with the family welcoming an octopus into their home on 11 October, 2023.

Cal named his pet Terrance and kept the animal in a tank in his bedroom.

But, unbeknown to the family at the time, Terrance was actually a female octopus and would go on to change their lives completely after she hatched around 50 eggs.

The new arrivals left the Clifford family shocked as Cameron had previously been told by experts that the eggs were unfertilised and simply a sign that the octopus was coming to the end of its life.

Despite the huge obstacles that come with suddenly expanding your family by 50, the Cliffords rose to the challenge and got to work on giving the younglings their best chance of survival.

“It’s a lot of work. A lot of work and emotion and money and time,” Cameron explained, adding that he’d been reaching out to various aquariums and research facilities for help in caring for the babies.

The family have since been able to keep around half of the babies alive, a figure much higher than average – which has left researchers stumped.

“Every scientist I speak to is always kind of astonished by that fact that we were able to get such a high yield in a kid’s bathroom,” Cameron said.

The family have since been documenting their journey on TikTok, with their account @doctoktopus gaining a following of over 450,000 people.

However this doesn’t mean the journey has been without its difficulties, with Cameron revealing the practical, and often costly, difficulties of building tanks for the 50 babies in their home.

The impromptu octopus aquarium has also caused damage too, with spilled water and small electrical fires racking up unexpected costs.

“Do not get a pet octopus unless you’re ready to lose sleep and your kids’ college fund simultaneously,” the dad added in another interview with USA Today.

There was also the heartbreak of Terrance inevitably dying, which came on 22 April, 2024.

The family shared a tribute to the marine animal on their account, with followers sharing their condolences to the family.

“I can’t believe I’m crying over an octopus,” one person wrote, while another added: “She lived far longer than she should have. This whole experience will live on forever and it all started with Terrance.

“Try to change the feeling of grief to celebration and gratitude.”

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