Common Name: Hiwassee headwaters crayfish

Classification:  Special Concern




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National Range: “headwaters of the Hiwassee River in Towns County, Georgia, and Clay County, North Carolina” (Hobbs Jr. 1989)

NC Physiographic Region(s): southwestern mountains

River Basin(s): upper Hiwassee (headwaters)

Adult Habitat: “streams” (Hobbs Jr. 1989); “very swift, clear water flowing over a bed of sand and rocks; although occurring in riffle areas, the species is most common in the rocky areas between riffles, under rocks, and in debris trapped by the rocks; this apparently allows it to partition the habitat with the sympatric C. bartonii.” (NHP ICAS 1999)

Reproductive Season: spring and fall; extended

Species associates: collected alone or with C. bartonii, (P.) brimleyorum, C. (P.) parrishi, C. (C.) sp. A.

Conservation status: state-listed as Special Concern in North Carolina (J.E. Cooper 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 in Clamp 1999.

Taxonomic Description:

  • body shape: n/a
  • coloration: olive brown, with light greenish tan markings, chela whitish tan, lateral and ventral surfaces and tubercles pinkish to orangeish,adomen olive green
  • spines: cephalic and marginal spines present; branchiostegal spines small, cervical spines reduced to row of 1 to 5 small tubercles
  • rostrum: dorsal surface of rostrum excavate, somewhat small with marginal tubercles or notches located at base of acumen or more distal, margins narrow and converging to base of acumen, where often moderately constricted
  • areola: medium-wide and punctate
  • chelae: robust; with single or double row of tubercles on mesial margin of palm, sometimes with tubercles between rows; well-developed dorsolongitudinal ridges
  • other characteristics: eyes well-developed
  • form I male gonopod: terminal elements equal in length and somewhat short; corneous central projection with subapical notch and curved over90 degrees; mesial process bulbous at base and tapering distally

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.