Common Name: New River Crayfish

Classification:  Nongame Fish - Crustacean




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National Range:"New River drainage system in northwestern North Carolina and Virginia, and the Blue Stone and Greenbrier basins in eastern West Virginia" (Hobbs Jr. 1989)

NC Physiographic Region(s): northwestern mountains

River Basin(s): New (New-Kanawha endemic)

Adult Habitat: "rocky streams" (Hobbs Jr. 1989); "preferred habitat is under and between rocks in unsilted, cool, swiftly moving streams with rocky riffle areas away from the shore, often in larger, turbulent streams" (NHP ICAS 1999); clear lotic systems; rivers and large streams; under rocks (larger crayfish under larger rocks) or in leaf litter in deeper pools

Reproductive Season: fall through spring (like C. longulus) (?)

Species associates: C. bartonii, C. robustus, O.cristavarius, others (like C (C.) sp. A)?

Conservation status: placed on North Carolina Watch List (W.F. Adams and J.E. Cooper in Clamp 1999); considered by Taylor et al. (1996) to be currently stable throughout its range

Identification references: Hobbs Jr. 1989, Hobbs Jr. 1991, Jezerinac et al. 1995

Taxonomic Description:

  • body shape: dorsoventrally flattened; very large animal
  • coloration:  smooth (vs. mottled) coloring; basic coloration in shades of tan, brown, and orange with highlights in various shades of green, turquoise, blue, yellow and red; underside cream; dark blue or black band straddling cervical groove; rostral margins red
  • spines: cervical spines or tubercles absent; branchiostegal spines absent (?); postorbital spines present
  • rostrum: swollen, concave margins; lacking marginal spines;smallish in size; somewhat concave or ladel-like; with corneous tubercle at apex
  • areola: medium-wide to wide; bearing approx. 10 punctations across narrowest part
  • chelae: smooth and very large with long fingers (longer than carapace in many cases); possessing large gape between fingers; absence of setae between fingers (or very sparse); with one row of tubercles alongmesial margin of palm; lacking dorsolongitudinal ridges (or poorly developed);dactyl length approx. 2.5 x the length of the palm
  • other characteristics: eyes well developed; suborbital angle obtuse or absent; smooth carapace
  • form I male gonopod:  central projection corneous, truncated,and with a subapical notch; mesial process inflated at base and tapering

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 unless otherwise stated.