Common Name: Surgeon Crayfish

Classification:  Nongame Fish - Crustacean



National Range: Tennessee River drainage from southwestern Virginia and western North Carolina, downstream through eastern and south central Tennessee, northwestern Georgia, and northern Alabama (Hobbs 1981).

NC Physiographic Region(s): Blue Ridge Mountains/Valley and Ridge boundary zone

River Basin(s): French Broad

Distribution:  Madison County

Adult Habitat: In small streams to large rivers. Found under rocks and in woody debris. Common in riffle areas (Hobbs 1981).

Reproductive Season: spring to fall

Species associates: O. (C.) erichsonianus

Conservation status: not protected

Identification references: Hobbs 1981

Taxonomic Description:

  • body shape:
  • coloration: tan to straw with dark brown to black markings; dark saddle behind the areola; fingers are orangish at the tips, followed by black
  • spines: cervical spine well developed; cephalic spine or tubercle
  • rostrum: margins slightly or strongly concave laterally and bearing marginal spines or tubercles
  • areola: 5-7 punctations across narrowest part
  • chelae: mesial margin of palm with at least two rows of tubercles; dorsal surface punctuate; fingers strongly gaping
  • other characteristics:
  • form I male gonopod: mesial process slightly shorter than central projection; central projection is less than half the length of appendage; cephalic surface of appendage lacking shoulder at base of central projection

Notes: First discovered in NC in lower French Broad River, 2012.

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:

Hobbs, H.H., Jr. 1981. The crayfishes of Georgia. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 318:1-549.



Figure 112. -- Orconectes forceps (c, f, from second form male; k, l, from female from South Chickamauga Creek at Rte S819 in Graysville, Catoosa Co; all others from first form male from Little Chickamauga Chreek at Ringgold, Catoosa Co): a, lateral view of carapace; b, c, mesial view of first pleopod; d, dorsal view of carapace; e, dorsal view of distal podomeres of cheliped; f, g, lateral view of first pleopod; h, antennal scale; i, caudal view of first pleopods; j, proximal podomeres of third, fourth, and fifth pereiopods; k, annulus ventralis; l, epistome.













Credit: TWRA-Carl Williams