June 10, 2023
How crabs clean dead skin from toes

How crabs clean dead skin from toes

  • Mitchell Varela has been getting crab pedicures in San Diego, California since he was a kid.
  • Crabs are a small species of scavengers known as striped shore crabs.
  • They clean dirt and grime from underneath and on the surface of the hands and nails.

Here is the transcript of the video.

– My name is Mitchell Varela, and I’m going to show you how crabs clean the dirt and grime from under your toenails.

The types of crabs I use are called striped shore crabs and they can be found right on the shoreline in the rocks, mostly on the western side of the United States. They are scavengers, so they eat almost anything they can grab, but their main diet is algae.

So the key to attracting crabs to your toes is to pay close attention to the crabs that are on the shoreline. So where I live in San Diego, California, there are hundreds if not thousands of these crabs. So, standing there, you can watch everywhere they are. And I look for crabs that are actively gathering seaweed from the rocks, because they show me that they are very hungry.

You have to stand there very patiently, but if you put your foot right near where they’re eating off the rock, 10, 20, maybe 30 minutes later, they’ll slowly come out. And if you haven’t moved, they’ll start testing your fingers. Most of the time, I’m out there for hours at a time. It’s very uncomfortable, but yes, you have to stay completely still or they’ll scare you.

So what the crab does is it pulls out a lot of buildup under the toe. It’s the easiest thing to grab. There are many tests for the crab. You’ll see it nibbling on various things just to see what it can actually grab, because I don’t think they have very good eyesight. So I don’t think he really knows what he’s grabbing, but he’s just touching what he can.

They taste with their toes. So if he’s touching my legs with his fingers to see what I’m like, then I know he’s kind of interested. But generally you can tell within seconds or minutes that a crab is interested or not. They can also taste with their mouths, so they, unlike us, have many ways of tasting.

I don’t know why they find toes appetizing. I’ve never asked for a crab. But they do. So sometimes, luckily, there’s a nail or a little piece of skin on the tip, and they really like it. But they will try to go to the flat surfaces, but it doesn’t look like they are grabbing much, because they aren’t.

The feeling I would describe for a crab pedicure is a pulling sensation. Everyone’s feet are different, but for me there is no pain. It’s just a pulling sensation, which I find strangely relaxing. I do not know. [laughs]

The majority of them are very afraid of me. They are very sensitive, so if you make a mistake or something, it could be a bad day for the crab.

So eating human skin I have no proof affects them negatively because they are scavengers. I always come from the view that they eat much worse, because they will literally eat dead birds that are crammed between rocks, which I think is much worse, but I’m also not a wildlife biologist, so I don’t know 100%.

As far as I know, there is no way for you to get sick from the crabs or for the crabs to get sick from me. There is a possibility of disease inside a crab, just like anything else. And so I would never let a crab pick at an open wound, I would never let a crab pick at anything raw on my skin. But other than that, I’ve never had any problems with them in my entire life.

The final results of the pedicure are generally much cleaner under the toenail and along the sides of the nail. So the nails are usually gone by the time they are finished. They will also clean the top of your nail pretty well. They just won’t cut your toenails, and I’m trying to figure that out, how can they do that to you.

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