Common Name: CHRISTMAS TREE CRAYFISH
Scientific Name: Procambarus (Hagenides) pygmaeus Hobbs
Rarity Ranks: G4/S3
State Legal Status: None
Federal Legal Status: None
Description: The overall color of the Christmas Tree Crayfish is dark greenish olive with red highlights. The red coloration is found on the carapace, joints of legs, and as transverse bands on the abdominal segments. The claws are lighter green than the body and have darker green or gray tubercles; the ends of the fingers may fade to a light brown. The mesial margin of the palm has a single row of jagged tubercles. The areola is very narrow. The rostrum tapers and there are no marginal spines or tubercles. This species reaches a maximum total body length of about 54 mm (2.1 in).
Similar Species: Across its range, no other species has the green and red coloration of this species. The color apparently fades rapidly after capture (Hobbs 1981) and without it, the Christmas Tree Crayfish looks very similar to all of the other species of the subgenus Hagenides in Georgia. Since its range overlaps with all four of the other Georgia Hagenides, any species of this subgenus should be examined carefully.
Habitat: The Christmas Tree Crayfish can be found among vegetation in flowing streams or in burrows adjacent to streams or ditches or other soggy areas.
Diet: No studies of the Christmas Tree Crayfish are known. Crayfishes are considered opportunistic omnivores and likely feed on live and decaying vegetation, aquatic insect larvae, small fishes, and dead animal matter.
Life History: Male Christmas Tree Crayfish in reproductive condition have been collected in March, April, May, June, October, November, and December. Females with eggs have been found in March and July in Georgia, and May in Florida (Hobbs 1981). The smallest breeding male known is about 33 mm (1.3 in) and the smallest female with eggs about 42 mm (1.7 in) in length (Hobbs 1981).
Survey Recommendations: Kicking into a seine through vegetation along the edges of creeks may reveal this species. Since it inhabits burrows as well, excavating burrows along waterways or in other wet areas may produce this species as well.
Range: The Christmas Tree Crayfish is distributed from the eastern panhandle of Florida, eastward across the northern one-third of the state and northward into southern Georgia. In Georgia it is widely distributed in the southeastern portion of the state from the Alapaha River to Savannah River system (Hobbs 1981).
Threats: This species is apparently secure across its range.
Conservation and Management Recommendations: General watershed level protection measures will help secure the continued existence of the Christmas Tree Crayfish in Georgia. These include the protection of riparian zones, control of sediment and nutrient runoff from farms and construction sites, and limiting the amount of impervious cover (e.g., pavement) within occupied watersheds. Non-native crayfishes should never be used for bait. Instead, anglers should use crayfishes collected from the river system they will be fishing in and should never release unused bait crayfish back into Georgia waters.Selected References:
Hobbs, H. H., Jr. 1981. The crayfishes of Georgia. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 318:1-549.
Taylor, C. A., G. A. Schuster, J. E. Cooper, R. J. DiStefano, A. G. Eversole, P. Hamr, H. H. Hobbs III, H. W. Robison, C. E. Skelton, and R. F. Thoma. 2007. A reassessment of the conservation status of crayfishes of the United States and Canada after 10+ years of increased awareness. Fisheries 32(8):372-389.
Date Compiled or Updated: October 2012