Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
April 30, 2024 ·  5 min read

Family Gets Their 9-Year-Old a Pet Octopus and Gives Birth to 50 Babies

Pets are a big responsibility, requiring an excess of both time and money. However, when a dad gifted his son a pet octopus, he got far more than he bargained for.

Dreams of a Pet Octopus

Cameron Clifford, a 36-year-old dentist living in Oklahoma, bought a pet octopus for his son, Cal, after years of requests. The young boy had been obsessed with the notion of a pet octopus since he was 3 years old. Finally, his 9th birthday rolled around, and Cameron agreed. “His ultimate dream, his cloud nine. The greatest thing that could ever possibly happen in one’s life had just become a possibility, and he just broke down,” Clifford said. “My friends and family, of course, all, as you probably imagine, said to me, ‘Well, now you have to get it for him. You can’t just dangle that in front of him and then turn around and just flatline that dream,” he added. 

Bringing Home a New Friend

A tank for a pet octopus.
Photo Credit: @doctoktopus | TikTok

Clifford contacted a local aquarium to help make his son’s dreams come true. They happened to have a California two-spot octopus, one they thought was a male. Clifford and his son then bought a tank and everything they would need for their new pet octopus, whom Cal named Terrance. However, within two months, the family learned their pet octopus was harboring a few, or 51, secrets. Terrance was more significant than the family had expected and was, contrary to their understanding, a female.

A female pet octopus with 50 eggs. What’s more, all 50 eggs were fertile and began hatching. Having been informed by experts that an octopus will release unfertilized eggs toward the end of its life cycle, the family merely assumed that Terrance would be a pet octopus for some time but not long before passing. While that may still be the case, the family was caught off guard at the news that their pet octopus had 50 babies.

@doctoktopus Terrance signals the end of her life-cyxle, but we have no idea how mich time we have left wirh her. #octopus #marinebiology #shrimpdaddy #saltwateraquarium #fyp #cephalopod #petoctopus #aquarium #octomom #biology #mom ♬ Heartbeats – Remastered 2023 – José González

Costs of a Pet Octopus

The family’s $600 setup for their singular pet octopus quickly became a costly endeavor. As each baby pet octopus would need its own tank. “Do not get a pet octopus unless you’re ready to lose sleep and your kids’ college fund simultaneously,” the dentist jokingly told USAToday. The family has wholeheartedly embraced the surprise guests. But has started exploring options such as sending some babies to an aquarium. “I accidentally popped it, and this droplet comes out and spreads out these tiny tentacles and does three swim strokes across my viewpoint,” he explained. “Terrance the octopus ended up hatching a total of 50 babies, and ‘all bets went off.”

Apparently, the unexpected cost of food and tanks wasn’t the only challenge Terrance, the pet octopus, brought to her new family. Taking everything in stride, Cameron and family have also had some costly house repairs due to spilled water and a “small” electrical fire. While several lessons have been learned, Clifford describes a particularly memorable and messy moment. “I wish I wouldn’t have opened that valve that way and dumped all that dirty seawater onto my kids’ white carpet,” he explained.

Joy for the Whole Family

Hand holding a baby octopus.
Photo Credit: @doctoktopus | TikTok

“It’s a lot of work. A lot of work and emotion and money and time.” He explained. However, he’s seemingly enjoying the experience and has kept an open mind about what may happen with the pet octopus and her babies. “I don’t know that we’ve been fully prepared for any of these challenges, but the hope is to re-home as many as we can. And [for] those that we can’t, we will figure out a way to keep them alive and be responsible. It’s not a real concrete plan, but we’re doing pretty good so far,” he said, adding, “The experience is overall joyful and rewarding as he said: ‘It’s been an absolutely fun experience, not just for me, but also for my kids.”

Downsides of a Pet Octopus

Although unconventional, a pet octopus has become increasingly popular. However, there are several downsides to owning a pet octopus, including its temperament. Octopi have never been domesticated, are solitary creatures, and require excessive stimulation. Some instances of a pet octopus, or one held in captivity, have led to the octopus escaping its enclosure.

Sadly, one study regarding octopi reflected that even with “toys” like flowerpots, shells, beads, and more, the octopus was still in distress. In some cases, being held in captivity resulted in self-mutilation. Furthermore, they’re shy and nocturnal. Therefore, becoming acquainted with a pet octopus can be time-consuming because of the time it will take for the octopus to become comfortable and because it will likely have a conflicting sleep schedule. Moreover, it’s not guaranteed that a pet octopus will adjust to a life in captivity or human ownership and may never become a part of the family.

Information from a Former Owner

Hand in an octopus tank.
Photo Credit: @doctoktopus | TikTok

“They won’t master the Rubik’s Cube, but they are likely smarter than any of your dogs and cats. It’s a different kind of smart though. You can’t throw a rubber mouse and expect your octopus to parade around with it. These animals require interaction and enrichment. They need interactive toys to play with. They need interesting habitats, they need to interact with their people as much as possible,” one owner explained, shedding light on the challenges of having a pet octopus. They also noted that their pet octopus would squirt water at them from across the room if it wanted attention.

A pet of any kind is a large responsibility; after all, it is living, feeling, and breathing beings. As such, they can have “moody” or extra needy days. These are days when they need more care and attention than others. Sadly, the demands of work, school, and extracurricular activities are so time-consuming that a pet octopus may not be the best choice for your family. However, these brilliant creatures have numerous skills like problem-solving and puzzle-solving. They may also come to enjoy interacting with their humans, assuming the family has enough time and energy to keep up with the demands of owning a pet octopus.

Read More: Father Prioritizes Dog Over Son: Chooses to Carry Pet Instead


  1. Family who got their nine-year-old son a pet octopus is left stunned after it gives birth to 50 babies. Daily Mail Delores Chang April 13, 2024.
  2. Does an Octopus Make a Good Pet? Treehugger Laura Moss November 7, 2022.