Common Name: Croatan Crayfish

Classification:  Nongame Fish - Crustacean




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National Range: “Carteret, Craven, Duplin, and Jones counties, North Carolina” (Hobbs Jr. 1989)

NC Physiographic Region(s): coastal plain

River Basin(s): Northeast Cape Fear, White Oak, may be expanding into lower reaches of Neuse (has been found in Craven Co.)

Adult Habitat: “temporary ponds, pools, and burrows (secondary burrower)” (Hobbs Jr. 1989);“temporary static waters; can burrow into substrate during drought; rivers, ponds, ditches, and borrow pits” (NHP ICAS 1999); swampy (often acidic) streams

Reproductive Season: n/a

Species associates: P. acutus but usually found alone

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 a species of Special Concern

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

Taxonomic Description:

  • body shape: cylindrical; fairly small species
  • coloration: light brown or tan with highlights in pastels (greens, pinks, salmon) and often speckled with dark spots or mottled
  • spines: branchiostegal spine present; marginal spines or tuberclesusually present; others lacking
  • rostrum: short, blunt, fairly flat; usually with marginal spines or tubercles
  • areola: wide
  • chelae: having strong dorsolongitudinal ridges; not robust but fairly large for this genus
  • other characteristics: n/a
  • form I male gonopod: tip of gonopods angled less than 90 degrees from main shaft (terminal elements directed caudodistally); cephalic process not broad, situated mesial to and partly obscured by central projection; caudal process not flared, forming compressed plate along caudolateral margin of distal part of gonopod; mesial process directed caudomesially

Notes:  North Carolina endemic; part of the planirostris group;may be expanding its range into the lower Neuse River Basin via canals (Cooper and Braswell 1995)

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.