Common Name: Atlantic Slope Crayfish

Classification:  Nongame Fish - Crustacean




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National Range:"Atlantic watershed from the James drainage in Virginia and West Virginiasouth to the Yadkin Basin in North Carolina, in mountains and piedmont" (Hobbs Jr. 1989)

NC Physiographic Region(s): mountains and upper western piedmont;higher elevations

River Basin(s): upper Roanoke, upper Yadkin-Pee Dee

Adult Habitat: "rocky areas of streams" (Hobbs Jr. 1989); fast-flowing (always lotic), clear water; mostly under rocks in riffles; reproduction in burrows

Reproductive Season: late fall, winter, early spring; reproduce in burrows (Smart 1962)

Species associates: C. bartonii, C. (P.) sp. C,others

Conservation status:  not protected

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

Taxonomic Description:

  • body shape: slightly dorsoventrally flattened
  • coloration: dark in color - shades of tan, brown, and reddish or rust; mostly solid coloration; rostral margins reddish; cream underside
  • spines: cervical spines/tubercles absent; cephalic spine or tubercle present; branchiostegal spine weak
  • rostrum: swollen, slightly concave margins; lacking marginal spines; smallish in size; concave or ladel-like; triangular in shape; with corneous tubercle at apex
  • areola: medium-wide, bearing approx. 10 punctations across the narrowest part
  • chelae: smooth; fingers with poorly defined dorsolongitudinal ridges; gap between fingers; long setae at base of fixed finger and along mesial margin of fixed finger; wide/robust; dactyl less than twice length of mesial margin of palm; one row of weak tubercles along mesial margin of palm
  • other characteristics: eyes well developed; suborbital obtuse or obsolete
  • form I male gonopod: corneous central projection truncated and bearing subapical notch; mesial process inflated at base and tapering
Notes:  may not find in open surface waters during winter, as this species reportedly burrows to reproduce

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.