Common Name: Little Tennessee River Crayfish

Classification:  Special Concern




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National Range: "known only from the Little Tennessee River in Rabun County, Georgia, and Macon County, North Carolina" (Hobbs Jr. 1989) Also, known from Swain and Jackson counties.

NC Physiographic Region(s): western mountains; likely absent from higher elevations

River Basin(s): upper Little Tennessee

Adult Habitat: "streams" (Hobbs Jr. 1989); "streams of medium to low gradient, flowing in some cases over gravel and rubble and in other cases over heavy sediments" (McLarney 1993); "associated with debris in slower parts of swift streams and areas lacking other crayfish competitors; seems unable to compete with C.bartonii in riffle areas; seems to hide in trapped leaf debris" (NHP ICAS 1999)

Reproductive Season: spring and fall

Species associates: C. bartonii, C. asperimanus

Conservation status: state-listed as Special Concern in North Carolina (J.E. Cooper and W.O. McLarney in Clamp 1999); considered by Taylor et al. (1996) to be Endangered

Identification references: Hobbs Jr. 1989, Hobbs 1991; also see description by J.E. Cooper and W.O. McLarney in Clamp (1999)

Taxonomic Description:

  • body shape: n/a
  • coloration: brown and brick red, occasionally bluish gray, with dark saddlelike marking and splotches on carapace, tips of fingers reddish, abdominal pleura with dark, L-shaped markings
  • spines: cervical, branchiostegal, and cephalic spines/tubercles present; marginal spines or notches present
  • rostrum: dorsal surface excavate, somewhat long and narrow with straight but converging margins; with marginal spines or notches and long narrow acumen
  • areola: very wide and punctate
  • chelae: not robust; usually only single row of tubercles on mesial margin of palm, sometimes with several tubercles in second row
  • other characteristics: large eyes; acute suborbital angle
  • form I male gonopod: terminal elements equal in length; corneous central projection with subapical notch and curved over 90 degrees; mesial process bulbous and hardly tapering (rounded) but with point at apex

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.