Oklahoma Boy’s Pet Octopus Thrills Hundreds of Thousands on TikTok

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In the tranquil surroundings of rural Edmond, Oklahoma, one could scarcely find a more unusual pet request than that of a pet octopus. Yet, this was the singular wish that had grown within the heart of modest, yet enterprising 9-year-old Cal Clifford since he first discovered the beauty of these elusive marine creatures in his toddler years. And while his doting family indulged this curiosity with an array of eight-legged toy cephalopods, it was evident that for Cal, nothing short of the genuine article would suffice.

With the relentless tide of Cal’s enthusiasm not showing signs of ebbing away, the boy’s father Cameron Clifford, a 36-year-old dentist with a knack for research, began exploring the reality of this unique request. His diligent efforts, combined with a successful collaboration with a local aquarium store, resulted in Terrance taking residence within the family home. Terrance was a captivating California two-spot octopus, also endearingly known as a bimac, now living contentedly inside a water enclosure, a stone’s throw from Oklahoma City.

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Parents everywhere strive to nurture and encourage the dreams of their offspring and the Clifford household was no different. “There’s an undeniable magic to seeing a child bring their dreams to life – to stay true to their passions,” stated the elder Clifford. He elaborated on Cal’s enduring fascination with marine biology, which had surfaced since his early childhood, “Cal has always been completely ensnared by the natural world.”

As Terrance adapted to her new surroundings, the Clifford pet project soon began captivating a larger audience. The introduction of the eight-legged family member was documented in a charming series on TikTok. The narration, delivered by Cal’s father in a simulated British accent provided by the social media app, appealed to the whimsy of online audiences. Before long, they were being followed by hundreds of thousands around the globe.

But as all engaging sagas do, this one also unraveled an unexpected plot twist. The presumed male Terrance was actually a female, a surprising truth laid bare when the octopus produced some 50 eggs. Their initial assumption of the eggs being unfertilized was soon debunked when, weeks later, a brood of tiny, almost diaphanous octopuses hatched to take their first taste of life. The event was accompanied by Cal coining playful names for the hatchlings – Rocket Larry, Squid Cudi, Swim Shady, Jay-Sea, and Sea-Yoncé.

The Clifford household was brimming with emotion and lively activity. The excitement was palpable when Cal’s father had first brought the news of adopting an octopus. Tears had welled up in Cal’s eyes amid the joyous uproar at the dinner table. In the following days, father and son ardently researched the necessities for their peculiar sea pet. They weighed options for a suitable saltwater tank and water cycling system and secured sustainable sources of nourishment for the soft-bodied marine creature. Cal’s mother, Kari, and younger sibling Lyle also pitched in, while valuable guidance came from a reptile scientist, a family friend.

The female octopus’s lifespan is typically short-lived following hatching. However, Terrance continues to defy odds and remains alive and well, making an intriguing ripple in octopus biology.

The addition of Terrance and the subsequent invertebrate brood has broadened the horizons of the Clifford family in countless ways. As Cameron shared with his TikTok followers, “It’s not just about the financial, emotional, and physical commitments of owning a species like a bimac; the endeavor will have you learning valuable lessons about your own self.” He continued, “It might be about the finer details of maintaining your home aquarium, or the challenges of dealing with gallons of seawater, or even the conflicts between seawater and electricity. It will introduce you to remarkable individuals, deepen your respect for wildlife, and, ultimately, lead you to develop a profound affection for a not-so-tiny octopus like our Terrance.”

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.