Common Name: Digger Crayfish

Classification:  Nongame Fish - Crustacean




* To help keep this map accurate and current, please send any distribution information (additions, deletions) to the webmaster.

National Range: “southern Ontario, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois southward to Arksansas, Mississippi, and Alabama” (Hobbs Jr. 1989; F. fodiens); “Atlantic coastal plain, from Maryland to South Carolina” (Hobbs Jr. 1989; F. uhleri)

NC Physiographic Region(s): lower piedmont plateau and coastal plain

River Basin(s): all coastal plain river basins, and in the lower piedmont plateau sections of the Cape Fear, Neuse, and Tar-Pamlico (including a population on Roanoke Island, across Croatan Sound)

Adult Habitat: “lentic and lotic habitats and burrows” (Hobbs Jr. 1989); “Primary burrower along water courses and in low swampy areas. Often collected from lentic waters or sluggish streams during spring”(Bouchard 1974); “found in ditches ponds and marshes; usually constructs mud chimney above entrance to burrow…” (NHP ICAS 1999)

Juvenile Habitat: in heavy vegetation along banks or in swamps during spring; burrows?

Reproductive Season: winter?

Species associates: many

Conservation status:  not protected

Identification references: Cooper 1998, 1999; Hobbs Jr. 1989; Hobbs Jr. 1991; Jezerinac et al. 1995

Taxonomic Description:

  • body shape: carapace slightly vaulted
  • coloration: mottled tan, olive, or brown carapace with darker markings (sometimes with four dark brown longitudinal lines on dorsal abdomen, sometimes with with light yellow stripe on dorsal abdomen and black areola), underside cream
  • spines: lacking
  • rostrum: short, blunt, rounded
  • areola: linear or obliterated
  • chelae: opposable margin of proximal 1/3 of dactyl with deep, prominent notch; large tubercle at distal end of notch; strong subspiniform tubercles on mesial margin of dactyl; sometimes with setae between fingers
  • other characteristics: cervical groove interrupted and with tuft of setae; smallish eyes
  • form I male gonopod: central projection corneous and bent slightly less than 90 degrees from shaft; basal part of mesial process laterally compressed (not inflated or bulbous) and blade like

Notes:  F. fodiens synonymous with F. uhleri (Faxon); may or may not build chimneys around burrows; widely distributed in tidewater areas

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.