Crayfishes of Georgia Overview List of Georgia Species Species Lists by Drainage Crayfish Identification Keys by Drainage Ecology and Life History Links and Other Useful Information Glossary
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Procambarus troglodytes tank

Common Name:  EASTERN RED SWAMP CRAWFISH

Scientific Name:  Procambarus (Scapulicambarus) troglodytes (LeConte)

Rarity Ranks:  G5/S4

State Legal Status:  None

Federal Legal Status:  None

Description:  The overall color of the Eastern Red Swamp Crawfish includes reds, reddish-browns, and pinkish hues.  The back is dark reddish brown and the upper sides have a dark longitudinal stripe.  Below the stripe the body is pinkish-cream with white speckles and whitish splotching.  There are numerous small, dark tubercles on the carapace.  The abdomen has dark transverse bands on each segment which create the appearance of a broad, dark longitudinal stripe.  The claws are dark red to blackish with bright orangish-reddish tubercles.  Another color form (shown above) is overall brown with dark splotches and pale orange tubercles on the claws.  There is a single row of large tubercles along the mesial margin of the palm and many scattered tubercles on its dorsal surface.  The areola is narrow and may be obliterated.  The rostrum is long and pointed and often has marginal spines or tubercles, especially on juveniles.  A single cervical tubercle is usually present and may be a sharp spine on juveniles.  This species reaches a maximum total body length of about 90 mm (3.5 in).

Similar Species:  Across most of its range, there are no other crayfish species with orangish-reddish tubercles on the claws.  There are two records of Ornate Crayfish, Procambarus howellae (close relative) near the southeastern extent of the range of Eastern Red Swamp Crawfish.  Details of the male reproductive structures are required to separate these species from one another.  Another similar species that must be considered is the Red Swamp Crawfish, a non-native species widely introduced around the world as a food source for people.  There are currently no known populations within the range of Eastern Red Swamp Crawfish, but it is possible they could turn up.  Again, details of the male reproductive structures are required to separate Eastern Red Swamp Crawfish from this species.

Habitat:  The Eastern Red Swamp Crawfish occurs in permanent streams and swamps as well as temporary habitats such as ditches and ponds.  In streams it is usually associated with vegetation or woody debris, or undercut banks.  In areas where open water recedes, it can be found in simple burrows. 

Diet:  No studies of the Eastern Red Swamp Crawfish 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 Red Swamp Crawfish in reproductive condition have been collected in February, March, April, May, June, and December.  No females with eggs or young have been collected.  The lack of female specimens carrying eggs suggests that they retreat to burrows to lay eggs and rear young.  The smallest breeding male known is about 60 mm (2.7 in) in length (Hobbs 1981).

Survey Recommendations:  In streams or ponds, kicking through vegetation into a net can yield specimens.  If there are rocks or logs in the creek, they may be carefully lifted and crayfish may be pinned by hand or coaxed into a dipnet.  Excavation of burrows adjacent to drying ponds or ditches should also yield specimens. 

Range:  The Eastern Red Swamp Crawfish ranges from the Altamaha River system in Georgia to the PeeDee River system in South Carolina (Hobbs 1989).  In Georgia it is most common in the Canoochee, Newport, Ogeechee, and Savannah basins in southeastern portion of the state (Hobbs 1981).

Threats:  This species is apparently secure across its range.

Conservation and Management Recommendations:  Conserving populations of the Eastern Red Swamp Crawfish will require general watershed level protection measures, including 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 where they will be fishing.  Unused bait of any kind should not be released back into Georgia waters. 

Selected References:

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

Hobbs, H.H., Jr. 1989. An Illustrated Checklist of the American Crayfishes (Decapoda: Astacidae, Cambaridae, and Parastacidae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 480:1-236.

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.

procambarus troglodytes map

Date Compiled or Updated:  September 2012

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