Common Name: Mitten Crayfish

Classification:  Nongame Fish - Crustacean




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National Range: “mountains of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, in the headwaters of the French Broad, Little Tennessee, Catawba, Broad, Saluda, and Savannah rivers and in the Watauga Basin in Tennessee” (Hobbs Jr. 1989)

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

River Basin(s): Broad, upper Catawba, French Broad, Little Tennessee, New, Savannah,  Watauga, upper Yadkin-Pee Dee

Adult Habitat: “seepage areas in mountain streams” (Hobbs Jr. 1989); “mountain seeps and headwaters of small mountain streams; tertiary burrower” (Williams and Bivens 1996); “frequently in burrows and tunnels in rock debris of cascading areas of streams” (NHP ICAS 1999); fast-flowing, clear water; under rocks in riffles; in simple shallow burrows along banks

Reproductive Season: may have extended breeding season (Cooper and Braswell 1995)

Species associates: C. (C.) bartonii, C. (P.) chaugaensis, C. (P.) reburrus, C.(C.) sp. A.

Conservation status:  not protected

Identification references: Hobbs Jr. 1989, Hobbs Jr. 1991

Taxonomic Description:

  • body shape: cylindrical
  • coloration:  orangish-tan; dark brown; bright red morph
  • spines: lacking
  • rostrum: very short, blunt, with parallel margins; no marginal spines; acumen very short or nonexistent; rounded or squared in shape;somewhat excavate or ladel-like dorsally
  • areola: medium-wide
  • chelae: subrectangular; posessing long setae all over (not clumped);one row of large tubercles on mesial margin of palm; lacking gape between fingers
  • other characteristics: body somewhat hairy
  • form I male gonopod: corneous central projection curving caudally(at an angle greater than 90 degrees to main shaft) and touching or nearly touching mesial process; no subapical notch; mesial process slightly longer than central projection and tapering and triangular in shape with caudal margin at or greater than 90 degrees to main shaft and cephalic margin greater than 90 degrees to main shaft

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.