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Family chronicles pet octopus giving birth to 50 babies on TikTok

‘We don’t take this responsibility lightly, they are extremely complex and intelligent creatures,’ family says

Olivia Hebert
Los Angeles
Thursday 11 April 2024 00:46 BST
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A family chronicled their pet octopus’s pregnancy journey on TikTok.

According to the Clifford family’s TikTok account @doctoktupus, their Californian adult female octopus bimaculoide - called “bimacs” for short - named Terrance laid 50 eggs in December that began hatching in February. Patriarch Cameron Clifford - affectionately referred to as “octodad” by their 362,200 followers - bought the octopus for his son in October and has been documenting the family’s subsequent octopus-filled hijinks.

Back in March last year, Clifford began sharing their journey to becoming proud octopus owners by sharing a video of his son tearfully reacting to his father gifting him with an aquarium. He wrote, “Surprising my son with an aquarium so he can fulfil a lifelong dream of owning a pet octopus.”

Later that year, Terrance arrived on the family’s doorstep, secured in a clear plastic bag within a styrofoam box. Clifford began to chronicle the family setting up Terrance’s new aquarium and tending to her habitat.

“Even with serious planning, consulting, and forethought, we were still faced with surprises when we received Terrance (including her size!),” Clifford wrote last month. “We don’t take this responsibility lightly, they are extremely complex and intelligent creatures. We love you Terry.”

However, the Clifford family was in for quite the surprise when Terrance began to lay eggs just two months after welcoming her into their home. Researchers have found that once a mother octopus lays her eggs, she stops feeding herself as she watches over her babies, leading her to waste away and potentially die before they even hatch. Bimacs like Terrance ordinarily have an expected lifespan between 12 to 18 months.

On 26 March, the family announced that they anticipated Terrance’s death in the following weeks. However, Terrance is still reportedly thriving, to the shock of everyone.

“We had always stayed in constant contact with our bimac experts, one of which had cared for dozens of bimacs through the years, and none of them had ever laid fertile eggs,” the family explained to viewers in a recent video. “Even educational and research facilities struggle with hatching them in captivity, but this occurred 3 feet from my son’s bed in Central Oklahoma.”

In the following weeks, their aquarium was full of little octopi, and the family painstakingly continued their work documenting what it’s like to care for a giant brood of octopi in their video diaries. After a week, not all of the hatchlings survived. However, those who survived were lovingly named by their owners. Some of the funky names given include Pearl, Melinda, Jay-Sea, Sea-yonceeé, and Rocket Larry to name a few.

While they continue to care for Terrance, the Clifford family has reportedly handed off the remaining babies to a local reptile scientist as they continue searching for the proper professional care for their brood of octopi. To help with the octopi care, they’ve established a Venmo where fans can donate.

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