Common Name: HUMPBACK CRAYFISH
Scientific Name: Procambarus (Ortmannicus) epicyrtus Hobbs
Rarity Ranks: G3/S3
State Legal Status: None
Federal Legal Status: None
Description: The carapace of the Humpback Crayfish is blackish to brownish with irregular cream splotches. There is a pale stripe down the center of the cephalothorax which is lighter anteriorly. There is a dark saddle across the rear of the carapace and two dark discrete spots on the upper sides. The abdomen is brownish-pinkish and the claws are brown with dark tubercles. The areola is moderately wide and a single cervical spine is present on each side of the carapace. The rostrum is long and tapering and has marginal spines or tubercles. This species reaches a maximum total body length of about 100 mm (3.9 in).
Similar Species: The only species previously collected with Humpback Crayfish that could be confused with it are the White River Crawfish (Procambarus acutus), the Hummock Crayfish (P. lunzi), and the Eastern Red Swamp Crawfish (P. troglodytes). However, all three have a narrower areola than Humpback Crayfish and none have a similar color pattern.
Habitat: The Humpback Crayfish is primarily a stream dweller usually associated with some sort of cover, particularly vegetation and undercut banks. It may also be found in leaf litter or associated with rocks or woody debris.
Diet: No studies of the Humpback 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 Humpback Crayfish in reproductive condition have been collected in April, September, November, and December. No females carrying eggs have been found. This suggests that they leave the water to burrow for egg laying and rearing of young. The smallest breeding male known is about 52 mm (2 in.) in length (Hobbs 1981).
Survey Recommendations: Since this species is usually found in flowing water, it is most easily collected by holding a net perpendicular to the current downstream of vegetation or woody debris and kicking to dislodge and scare crayfish into the net. 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. Using a backpack electroshocker or minnow traps can be effective as well.
Range: The Humpback Crayfish is known only from Georgia in the Ogeechee and Savannah river systems (Hobbs 1981).
Threats: This species is considered secure although it has a very restricted range. Introduction of a non-native species into the Ogeechee River system would likely threaten this species.
Conservation and Management Recommendations: General watershed level protection measures will help secure the continued existence of the Humpback 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.
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: September 2012