Common Name: Red Burrowing Crayfish

Classification:  Nongame Fish - Crustacean




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National Range: “From the upper Broad River basin in the northern part of South Carolina westward into North Carolina and Tennessee (south of the French Broad River) almost to the Tennessee River” (Hobbs Jr. 1989); “Blue Ridge province from the French Broad river system south, Tennessee” (Williams and Bivens 1996)

NC Physiographic Region(s): southwestern mountains

River Basin(s): Hiwassee, Little Tennessee

Adult Habitat: “burrows (primary burrower)” (Hobbs Jr. 1989); “primary burrower although occasional specimens are collected in streams; occurs in montaine to sub-montane springs seeps, etc.” (Williams and Bivens 1996); burrows in wetlands or bogs (Cooper and Braswell 1995)

Reproductive Season: n/a

Species associates: n/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

Taxonomic Description:

  • body shape: cylindrical; vaulted
  • coloration:  red; brick red
  • 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: narrow (almost linear)
  • chelae: subrectangular; not posessing long setae all over; one row of large tubercles on mesial margin of palm; lacking gape between fingers
  • other characteristics: n/a
  • form I male gonopod: corneous central projection lacking subapical notch; mesial process not longer than central projection (or barely so); mesial process inflated at base and tapering distally

Notes:  sometimes creates chimneys to its burrows

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.