Common Name: KENTUCKY RIVER CRAYFISH
Scientific Name: Orconectes (Procericambarus) juvenilis (Hagen)
Rarity Ranks: G4/Non-Native
State Legal Status: None
Federal Legal Status: None
Description: The Kentucky River Crayfish has brown saddle markings in front of and behind the areola and the back is tan or light brown. The abdomen is reddish brown and the claws have a purplish-greenish hue. The tips of the fingers are orange and black and there are two rows of tubercles along the mesial margin of the palm. The areola is fairly wide and there is a single cervical spine on each side of the carapace. The rostrum is parallel sided or slightly narrower in the middle (“pinched”) and has marginal spines or tubercles. This species reaches a maximum total body length of about 75 mm (3 in).
Similar Species: No other crayfish species that occurs with the Kentucky River Crayfish has a similar color pattern, claw, or rostrum shape.
Habitat: This species can be found in streams and reservoirs, usually among rocks or woody debris.
Diet: No studies of the Kentucky River 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: Males in reproductive condition have been found in every month of the year and females with eggs have been found in April (Skelton unpub. data; Taylor and Schuster 2004).
Survey Recommendations: Flipping larger rocks in just about any habitat in a stream should turn up this species if it is present. In reservoirs, turning rocks along the shore or using baited minnow traps can be effective.
Range: As its name implies, the Kentucky River Crayfish is native to the Kentucky River system and other Ohio River tributaries in Kentucky. In Georgia, it is currently known only from Little River and Murder Creek arms of Lake Sinclair (Oconee River system) and the lower flowing reaches of Murder Creek.
Threats: This species is apparently secure across its range.
Conservation and Management Recommendations: This species is known to be a rapid invader and has the capacity to displace native Georgia species with which it occurs. Now that it is in the state it is more likely to be moved to additional river systems. Never move crayfishes from one river to another, and if fishing with crayfish, only use them in the stream in which they were captured. Any specimens encountered should be collected and humanely euthanized by freezing.
Hobbs, H. H., Jr. 1981. The crayfishes of Georgia. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 318:1-549.
Taylor, C.A. and G.A. Schuster. 2004. Crayfishes of Kentucky. Illinois Natural History Survey Special Publication 28, Champaign, IL. 219 pp.
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