Common Name: North Carolina Spiny Crayfish

Classification:  Special Concern




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National Range: North Carolina endemic

NC Physiographic Region(s): piedmont and coastal plain

River Basin(s): Neuse (absent from piedmont), Tar-Pamlico

Adult Habitat: small to large streams; under cover; rock substrates; taken from areas when water was extremely low

Reproductive Season: wide range of spring and fall months

Species associates: C. diogenes, C. latimanus, C. sp.C, and P. acutus

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

Identification references: Cooper and Cooper 1995; Cooper 1999; also see description written by J.E. Cooper in Clamp 1999

Illustration reference: Cooper and Cooper 1995 

Taxonomic Description:

  • body shape: cylindrical; can grow large but most adults are relatively small in size
  • coloration: carapace tan to forest green; dark, often mottled saddle; orange, crimson, and black highlights (same on chelae fingertips)
  • spines: cervical, branchiostegal, and marginal spines strong; occasionally hepatic spines or tubercles
  • rostrum: deeply excavate; with conspicuous acumen and strong marginal spines; margins thickened and parallel
  • areola: fairly wide and punctate
  • chelae: inflated palm; dorsal surfaces of palm and fingers usually with setae; mesial margin of palm with double row of tubercles, mesialmost row subserrate; tuft of setae at base of fingers; well-defined dorsolongitudinal ridges on fingers
  • other characteristics: suborbital angle obsolete or nearly so
  • form I male gonopod: length of gonopod about half of total carapace length; cephalic surface with shoulder; terminal elements long and slender; corneous central projection smoothly tapered and over half length of gonopod; mesial process somewhat spatulate and over 40% length of gonopod

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.

The following illustration is reproduced from:


Fig. 1.  Orconectes (Procericambarus) carolinensis, new species (all from holotypic male, form I, except C, E, from morphotypic male, form II, and G, from allotypic female; setae not illustrated): A, lateral aspect of carapace; B, C, mesial aspect of gonopod (first pleopod); D, dorsal aspect of carapace; E, F, lateral aspect of gonopod; G, annulus ventralis and postannular sclerite; H, epistome; I, basal podomeres of third pereiopod; J, dorsal aspect of distal podomeres of cheliped; K, antennal scale; L, caudal aspect of in situ gonopods.















        Credit NCWRC for all photos.