Common Name: Devil Crayfish

Classification:  Nongame Fish - Crustacean




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National Range: “very wide spread east of the Rockies and south of the Great Lakes, except peninsular Florida and the Alleghenies; not reported northeast of New Jersey in the East and east of western Pennsylvania in the Mississippi drainage system” (Hobbs Jr. 1989); “throughout Cumberlands (Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama), avoiding areas of high gradient” (Bouchard 1974)

NC Physiographic Region(s): eastern piedmont and coastal plain

River Basin(s): Cape Fear (eastern piedmont and coastal plain), Chowan, Lumber, Neuse, Northeast Cape Fear, Pasquotank, Roanoke (eastern piedmont and coastal plain), Tar-Pamlico, Waccamaw, White Oak, lower Yadkin-Pee Dee (Sandhills region)

Adult Habitat: “burrows (primary burrower); often found in ponds or streams in the spring season” (Hobbs Jr. 1989); “Primary burrower along water courses and in low swampy areas.  Adults, and especially juveniles, also collected in epigean bodies of water” (Bouchard 1974); under logs in riffle; “can be excavated almost anywhere where water table is near surface; lives as primary burrower” (NHP ICAS 1999)

Reproductive Season: “amplexus in fall; spring brooding” (NHP ICAS 1999)

Species associates: many

Conservation status:  not protected

Identification references: Cooper 1999, Hobbs Jr. 1989, Hobbs Jr. 1991

Taxonomic Description:

body shape: carapace vaulted
coloration:  reddish-brown or grayish with bright or pastel shades of red and blue along margins and crevices
spines: lacking marginal, cephalic, and cervical spines
rostrum: wide and squarish, somewhat long; concave; small pinched acumen
areola: linear (or nearly so), or obliterated
chelae: robust; strong dorsolatitudinal ridges; having broad shallow curved excision in proximal half of movable dactyl; large tubercle about midway on mesial margin of fixed finger
other characteristics: eyes well developed
form I male gonopod: corneous central projection somewhat rounded and not bearing subapical notch; central projection longer than mesial process; mesial process inflated and bulbous at base, tapering distally
Notes:  Hobbs Jr. and Bouchard believed this to be a species complex needing attention; often creates chimneys to its burrows; widely distributed in tidewater areas; “often cited as pest for burrowing in todykes, levees, etc.” (NHP ICAS 1999)

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.