Omaha stay-at-home mom is becoming internet famous thanks to her pet CRAB Howie

A stay-at-home mom from Nebraska has become famous on the internet for her rainbow crab Howie, who she says can smile and use sign language.

“I think people just love the way I love her,” owner Laura Porter told me the Omaha World Herald this week from her crustacean friend. Between TikTok and Instagram, Howie has about 600,000 followers. Her videos reach millions of viewers.

Porter told the paper that editing Howie’s videos is now a full-time job. She said the first video she made with Howie, showing her cleaning her shell of bacteria with a toothbrush, had been viewed six million times.

The savvy influencer has also stuck a series of hats on Howie in an attempt to make her more human, with many arachnophobes saying the clawed sea creature looked too much like a giant spider for their liking.

In a question and answer session with fans on TikTok in December, Porter said she bought Howie from an aquatic pet store in 2016 and that it was her daughter who named the crustacean after America’s Got Talent judge Howie Mandel, despite the clawed Howie being a female used to be.

The family brought Howie, part of a species known as cardisoma armatum that is typically found wild in West Africa, into the family after their daughter’s fish died. The family even bought Howie a 55-gallon aquarium to live in.

Laura Porter bought her pet crab Howie for her daughter in 2016, now the crustacean is a social media star

Laura Porter bought her pet crab Howie for her daughter in 2016, now the crustacean is a social media star

Howie's first video showed Porter cleaning her carapace with a toothbrush, it was viewed six million times

Howie's first video showed Porter cleaning her carapace with a toothbrush, it was viewed six million times

Howie’s first video showed Porter cleaning her carapace with a toothbrush, it was viewed six million times

Porter said 'the world went crazy' this week when she started stuffing Howie into a hamster ball and rolling him around the house

Porter said 'the world went crazy' this week when she started stuffing Howie into a hamster ball and rolling him around the house

Porter said ‘the world went crazy’ this week when she started stuffing Howie into a hamster ball and rolling him around the house

Porter described teaching Howie to high five, saying the crab started doing it voluntarily while her claws were stroked.

Many of Howie’s thousands of followers refer to the Porter’s cat, Siren, as her “frenemy.” Porter even told the World-Herald that one of the crab’s favorite pastimes is to pinch the cat.

Porter also said that her beloved pet’s favorite snacks are peanut butter and cheese sandwiches and that she feeds Howie foods high in calories so she can achieve “maximum health.”

When a fan asked what foods Howie shouldn’t have, Porter said, “I avoid chocolate, fruit seeds, acidic foods, spicy peppers, and onions.”

In her World-Herald interview, Porter explains that Howie also likes meatloaf. She went on to say that “the world went crazy” when she started stuffing Howie into a hamster ball and rolling him around the house.

“I’ve lost count of how long she’s shed. Howie has reached the maximum size of her species for her sex,” Porter told Howie’s followers in December.

Howie goes for a walk in his Omaha neighborhood with her owner

Howie goes for a walk in his Omaha neighborhood with her owner

Howie goes for a walk in his Omaha neighborhood with her owner

Porter described teaching Howie to high five, saying the crab started doing it voluntarily while her claws were stroked

Porter described teaching Howie to high five, saying the crab started doing it voluntarily while her claws were stroked

Porter described teaching Howie to high five, saying the crab started doing it voluntarily while her claws were stroked

Porter said that if Howie is frightened, the crab will run to her owner and she enjoys TV

Porter said that if Howie is frightened, the crab will run to her owner and she enjoys TV

Porter said that if Howie is frightened, the crab will run to her owner and she enjoys TV

When a fan asked what foods Howie shouldn’t have, Porter said, “I avoid chocolate, fruit seeds, acidic foods, spicy peppers and onions”

Molting is the process by which crabs shed their shells and begin to grow a new one. Howie molts twice a year. Crabs like Howie are susceptible to shell rot and most live longer than five years in captivity.

They can die from molting. Shedding is a very, extremely delicate process where she regrows her jaws, her intestines and her stomach lining, and if she doesn’t break free from her molt properly, she will die. The last molt was very successful and I am so happy,” added Porter.

Though Porter joked that “right before she molts, she gets really bad-tempered.”

Porter told the World-Herald that she has been teaching Howie how to tap her mouth when she is hungry and that they are working on more sign language and that the crab is “tolerating” the hats taped to her carapace with medical tape.

She said if Howie is scared the crab will run to her owner and she enjoys watching TV.

“I can pick her up and hug her. I can put her on my head. She doesn’t trust anyone else… I’m just doing my best for her to make her as happy and healthy as possible, that’s the right thing to do,” Porter added.

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