Common Name: French Broad Crayfish

Classification:  Nongame Fish - Crustacean




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National Range: “type locality (small tributary to Horsepasture River, Jackson County, North Carolina) and tributaries of the French Broad River in Buncombe, Henderson, Jackson, Madison, and Transylvania counties, North Carolina” (Hobbs Jr. 1989); endemic to North Carolina

NC Physiographic Region(s): southwestern mountains

River Basin(s): French Broad (absent from Pigeon and Nolichucky sub-basins), portions of Little Tennessee (upper Tuckasegee sub-basin), upper Savannah 

Adult Habitat: “streams” (Hobbs Jr. 1989); “moderately flowing streams in headwaters” (NHP ICAS 1999); "slack or slow-moving wafers of low gradient and generally with considerable organic debris" (Cooper and Braswell 1995)

Reproductive Season: fall through mid-summer?

Species associates: C. (C.) bartonii, C. (J.) asperimanus, C. (P.) chaugaensis, C. (P.) robustus

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 a species of Special Concern

Identification references: Hobbs Jr. 1989, Hobbs 1991

Taxonomic Description:

  • body shape: cylindrical
  • coloration: often bearing double stripes down dorsal abdomen; usually shades of brown and red but blueish forms exist
  • spines: strong cervical spines; cephalic and branchiostegal spines present; marginal spines absent
  • rostrum: very long and acuminate; medium to narrow in width
  • areola: wide
  • chelae: reduced and Procambarus-like; opposable margins of fingers without prominent tubercles on distal half; double row of tubercles on mesial margin of palm
  • other characteristics: suborbital angle obtuse or absent
  • form I male gonopod: corneous central projection bearing subapical notch and slightly longer than mesial process; mesial process bulbous at base and tapering distally, and bending mesially

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.