Common Name: Spinytail Crayfish

Classification:  Nongame Fish - Crustacean




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National Range: “Tennessee basin in Alabama, southwestern Tennessee, and northwestern Georgia; Coosa Basin from its headwaters in Georgia to Chilton County, Alabama, and in headwaters of the Black Warrior River in Blount and Tuscaloosa counties, Alabama; Chattahoochee Basin from Walton and De Kalb counties, Georgia, to Russell County, Alabama; and in the upper Ocmulgee Basin in Georgia”(Hobbs Jr. 1989); “BlueRidge and Ridge and Valley provinces (southern portion of these two provinces), Tennessee” (Williams and Bivens 1996).

NC Physiographic Region(s): southwestern mountains

River Basin(s): Hiwassee (Nottely subdrainage)

Adult Habitat: “burrows and streams” (Hobbs Jr. 1989); “primary burrower” (Williams and Bivens 1996); “primary burrower; [females and young] can be found in many places where water table is near the surface; pools and small creeks”(NHP ICAS 1999)

Reproductive Season: spring to summer

Species associates: no other species collected with this one

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 1981

Taxonomic Description:

  • body shape: n/a
  • coloration: darkreddish-brown fading ventrally to pale bluish cream; or grey-brown with pale to bright orange on chelae and sides of carapace
  • spines: lacking
  • rostrum: broad, fairly long; converging margins
  • areola: narrow; no more than 2punctations across narrowest part
  • chelae: palm with several rows oftubercles
  • other characteristics: acute suborbital angle; eyes well developed
  • form I male gonopod: short, nontapering, distally rounded central projection and slender mesial process; both directed caudally at an angle slightly greater than 90°

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.