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MLA Full: "Nails: Your Human Claws." YouTube, uploaded by SciShow Kids, 26 April 2018,
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APA Full: SciShow Kids. (2018, April 26). Nails: Your Human Claws [Video]. YouTube.
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Did you know you have useful tools right at your fingertips? That's right: your fingernails! Jessi and Squeaks learn why fingernails are so important!

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[INTRO] and you see?

They're done! I’ve been showing Squeaks how I trim my fingernails this morning.

He doesn’t have any nails, so he was really curious. [Squeaks wants to know why she has to cut them]. I trim my fingernails for some of the same reasons that I cut my hair. Just like hair, fingernails and toenails are constantly growing, so I cut them to keep them from getting too long.

And if I keep them to a good length, they can be really useful! Nails start growing down at the base of your nail, right under a thin bit of skin called the cuticle. As the nail grows, it gets longer, and longer, until it grows past the part of your finger called the nail bed — that’s the part underneath your fingernail that looks pink.

Nails grow really, really slowly, so you might not notice them growing every day. But they do! And when my nails grow longer than the nail bed, I sometimes like to trim them to make them short again.

The clippers trim away the ends of your fingernails or toenails, but not your fingers or toes, so it’s very safe. It’s important to take good care of your nails, because they’re an awesome tool that you keep on your body. [Squeaks squeaks]. Nails are useful because they work a lot like other animals’ claws.

Lots of animals have claws on their paws, from dogs and cats to squirrels to bears. These claws are made of something called keratin, the same stuff that makes up some other animal body parts, like hair, fur, feathers, and horns. Claws and nails are made of a really hard type of keratin, making them great tools.

A squirrel might use its keratin claws to scratch an itch or climb a tree, to grab at food, or even to protect itself from a hungry predator. Humans can use our keratin nails in many of the same ways. For example, I can use my nails to help me to pull a sticker off of a banana, or to cut into the outside peel.

Fingernails are a great tool to use to pick at small things, and they also have another special job: protecting your fingers. If you look closely, you’ll see that your nails sit right on top of your fingers. Because fingernails are made of such hard keratin, if you bump your fingers against something hard or rough, like a rock or a tree, your nails will keep it from hurting your fingers.

Toenails also protect a body part; can you guess which one, Squeaks? [Squeaks guesses]. You got it; toenails protect toes. But while your fingernails and toenails are protecting your fingers and toes, they slowly wear down.

Each little scratch and bump can wear down a small bit of nail, so nails have to keep growing to stay long and sharp enough to use. The only problem is, most people’s nails grow faster than we wear them down! If they get too long too fast, they can be more likely to break or rip.

So that’s why I have to trim them — it helps keep them healthy and strong. And your nails can show if the rest of your body is healthy, too. Some germs can cause your nails to turn different colors, like yellow or white, or can make them change shape, giving them lines or unusual curves.

A doctor might look at your fingernails to check if your body is healthy, or if you might be sick. Let’s take a look at mine. [Squeaks squeaks his approval]. I think they look pretty healthy, too.

And they’re the perfect tool for giving you some back scratches. What do you use your nails for? Do you think they grow fast or slow?

Ask a grown-up to help you leave a comment below, or send us an email at And if you’d like to keep learning new things with Squeaks and me, hit the subscribe button. We’ll see you next time, here at the Fort. [ outro ].