Common Name: MITTEN CRAYFISH
Scientific Name: Cambarus (Jugicambarus) asperimanus Faxon
Rarity Ranks: G4/S2
State Legal Status: None
Federal Legal Status: None
Description: The overall color of the Mitten Crayfish ranges from brownish-orange to a more olive color with some light mottling. The rostrum is fairly short and squarish and the areola is wide. The claws are rectangular in appearance and the mesial margin of the palm has 5-6 well-developed tubercles. The claws have a “hairy” appearance with abundant setae on the fingers and portions of the palm. This species reaches a maximum total body length of about 60 mm (2.5 in).
Similar Species: The Mitten Crayfish has been collected with Common Crayfish, Cambarus (C.) bartonii. Both species have a single row of tubercles on the mesial margin of the palm, but those of C. bartonii are typically flattened and inconspicuous. Common Crayfish do not have “hairy” claws and their overall color is typically olive-brown with dark mottling rather than having orangish tones.
Habitat: The Mitten Crayfish is usually found at higher elevations in very small streams (<1 m) to streams 4-5 m wide. They tunnel among rocks in flowing areas of larger streams and among rocks and woody debris in small streams.
Diet: No studies of the Mitten Crayfish are known. Crayfishes are considered opportunistic  omnivores and likely feed on live and decaying vegetation, aquatic insects, small fishes, and dead animal matter.
Life History: A single male in reproductive condition was collected in June and a female carrying eggs was collected on 26 April 1977. Across its range, first form males have been found from May to October (Hobbs 1981). The only reproductive male known from Georgia is about 55 mm (2.2 in) and the single female with eggs about 61 mm (2.4 in) in length (Hobbs 1981).
Survey Recommendations: This species can be difficult to find; it is typically not found beneath a single rock on the surface of the stream bed like many species. Since this species essentially tunnels among rocks, a surveyor must patiently remove rocks one at a time in the proper habitat and catch the crayfish by hand or guide it into a dipnet.
Range: In Georgia the Mitten Crayfish is found in the Blue Ridge and upper Piedmont physiographic provinces in the headwaters of the Savannah and Little Tennessee river systems. Elsewhere it is known from the upper Broad, Saluda, and Savannah systems in South Carolina, the headwaters of the Broad, Catawba, French Broad, Little Tennessee, and Yadkin Pee-Dee rivers in North Carolina, and the Watauga River system in eastern Tennessee (Eversole and Jones 2004; Hobbs 1981; 1989; Simmons and Fraley 2010).
Threats: This species is apparently secure across its range.
Conservation and Management Recommendations: Conserving populations of the Mitten Crayfish 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 they will be fishing in and should never release unused bait crayfish back into Georgia waters.
Eversole, A. G. and D. R. Jones. 2004. Key to the Crayfish of South Carolina. US Forest Service Publication. 79 p.
Hobbs, H. H., Jr. 1981. The crayfishes of Georgia. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 318:1-549.
Simmons, J. W. and S. J. Fraley. 2010. Distribution, status, and life-history observations of crayfishes in western North Carolina. Southeastern Naturalist 9 (Special Issue 3):79–126.
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: August 2012