North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Orconectes (Crockerinus) virginiensis   Hobbs 1951

Common Name: Chowanoke Crayfish

Classification:  Special Concern



Additional Information


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National Range: “Chowan drainage system in North Carolina and Virginia” (Hobbs Jr. 1989); also lower Roanoke River Basin

NC Physiographic Region(s): northern coastal plain

River Basin(s): Chowan and lower Roanoke

Adult Habitat: “streams” (Hobbs Jr. 1989); sluggish streams or swamps on sand or gravel substrates;“sluggish streams flowing through woodlands; sandy or gravelly substrates; vegetation may be sparse” (NHP ICAS 1999)

Juvenile Habitat: n/a

Reproductive Season: spring through fall?

Species associates: P. acutus, possibly C. sp.C

Conservation status: state-listed as Special Concern in North Carolina (J.E. Cooper in Clamp 1999); considered by Taylor et al. (1996) to be Currently Stable throughout its range

Identification references: Hobbs Jr. 1989, also see description written by J.E. Cooper in Clamp 1999

Taxonomic Description:

  • body shape: small adult size
  • coloration: shades of tan or green with dark highlights, often in saddle pattern; chelae fingertips with orange and black bands
  • spines: cephalic, cervical, branchiostegal, and marginal spines strong
  • rostrum: dorsally concave, margins parallel with marginal spine sat base of long pointed acumen
  • areola: wide and punctate
  • chelae: not robust; bearing setae on palm and fingers; having double row of tubercles on mesial margin of palm
  • other characteristics: large eyes
  • form I male gonopod: short terminal elements, mesial process and central projection subequal in length

Crayfish Regulations (PDF)

According to NC General Statue and NCWRC Regulation, it is unlawful to stock any fish (including shellfish and crustaceans) into public waters without a WRC permit.  It is also unlawful to transport, purchase, possess, or sell any live individuals of virile crayfish (Orconectes (Gremicambarus) virilis), rusty crayfish (Orconectes (Procericambarus) rusticus), Australian “red claw” crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) or other species of “giant” crayfish species.

Illustrations are reproduced with the permission of the Smithsonian Institution Press. We are grateful to them for allowing us to provide this useful information with the other materials provided herein. We also wish to recognize the tremendous contribution to crayfish biology by the author/artist, the late Horton H. Hobbs Jr.

The following illustration is reproduced from:
Hobbs Jr., H. H. 1989. An illustrated checklist of the American crayfishes (Decapoda: Astacidae, Cambaridae, and Parastacidae). Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, Number 480:1-236.

        Credit NCWRC for all photos.