Common Name: Knotty Burrowing Crayfish

Classification:  Nongame Fish - Crustacean




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National Range: “Headwater areas of the Hiwassee (Ocoee, Nottely, and Toccoa river basins), Savannah (Chattooga, Tugaloo, and Koewee river basins), and Chattahoochee river systems in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia” (Hobbs Jr. 1989)

NC Physiographic Region(s): southwestern mountains

River Basin(s): Hiwassee

Adult Habitat: “burrows and occasionally in streams” (Hobbs Jr. 1989); burrows in muck, some burrows submerged in seepage water, some crayfish found under rocks in these areas (Cooper and Braswell 1995); “primary burrower although may be collected in seepage areas, under rocks on the shore or the shoreline, and under rocks at midstream” (Williams and Bivens 1996); seepages and other mucky areas; mostly in burrows, but also under rocks in pools and slow runs along banks” (NHP ICAS 1999)

Reproductive Season: extended spring and extended fall

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 or laterally compressed, vaulted
  • coloration:  n/a
  • spines: lacking
  • rostrum: very short, blunt, with convergent thickened margins; no marginal spines; acumen very short or nonexistent; rounded or squared in shape; somewhat excavate or ladel-like dorsally
  • areola: medium
  • chelae: subrectangular; not posessing long setae all over; one row of large tubercles on mesial margin of palm and bearing several to many tubercles on dorsal flank; gape between fingers lacking or slight
  • other characteristics: eyes well developed
  • form I male gonopod: corneous central projection lacking subapical notch; mesial process slightly longer than central projection and tapering and triangular in shape with caudal margin at approx. 90 degrees to main shaft and cephalic margin greater than 90 degrees to main shaft

Notes:  only a few locations exist in North Carolina where this species has been collected

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.