Common Name: White River Crayfish

Classification:  Nongame Fish - Crustacean




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National Range: “coastal plain and piedmont from Maine to Georgia, from Florida panhandle to Texas, and from Minnesota to Ohio…” (Hobbs Jr. 1989)

NC Physiographic Region(s): lower piedmont, coastal plain

River Basin(s): Cape Fear, Catawba, Chowan, Lumber, Neuse, Pasquotank, Roanoke, Tar-Pamlico, White Oak, Yadkin

Adult Habitat: “sluggish to moderately flowing streams and most lentic situations” (Hobbs Jr. 1989); “most common in valley springs where usually collected from pools and runs in leaf litter and dense concentrations of aquatic vascular plants...tertiary burrower…much more abundant below the Fall Line especially in lentic environments, although it does not hesitate to enter lotic environs”(Bouchard 1974); “sluggish streams and rivers to large moderatly flowing and lentic situations, swamps,ditches, sloughs, and ponds, etc. especially in vegetation, leaf litter,etc; secondary burrower” (Williams and Bivens 1996); slow, slack, or stagnant areas (like pools) in piedmont streams; associated with vegetation or woody debris in swamps; “widely tolerant, in most lentic situations in range …” (NHP ICAS 1999)

Reproductive Season: fall and spring but extended; “amplexus in fall and early winter; brood in spring; one generation per year” (NHP ICAS 1999)

Species associates: many

Conservation status:  not protected

Identification references: Cooper 1998, Cooper 1999, Hobbs Jr. 1989, Hobbs 1991

Taxonomic Description:

  • body shape: cylindrical, large animal
  • coloration:  generally reddish-brown carapace with thick dark/black “stripe” on dorsal abdomen; or shades of tan and green with dark speckles or light mottling; blue morphs exist (very rare)
  • spines: strong cervical, cephalic, branchiostegal, and marginal spines
  • rostrum: long; with marginal spines and very long spiniform acumen
  • areola: fairly narrow
  • chelae: not robust
  • other characteristics: n/a
  • form I male gonopod: distal ¼ of shaft striaght; subapica lsetae arising from promiment knoblike eminence at or near cephalic margin; setae and knob lateral to base of cephalic process, usually hiding part of cephalic process when viewed laterally

Notes:  Hobbs Jr. believed this to be a species complex (and split off one species already – P. zonangulus); very difficult to distinguish from P. blandingii where they co-occur (distinguishable only with form I male and can be confusing even then); 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.