Common Name: MOLE CRAYFISH
Scientific Name: Procambarus (Hagenides) talpoides Hobbs
Rarity Ranks: G5/S5
State Legal Status: None
Federal Legal Status: None
Description: The overall color of the Mole Crayfish is brown with bluish or purplish hues and no distinguishing markings. The lower sides of the body are lighter than the back and the claws have a purplish or bluish tint. The claws are covered with dark tubercles. In some populations, there are individuals that are almost entirely blue. Occasionally some members of a population will have a pale area around the areola and a narrow pale stripe down the center of the abdomen. 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 80 mm (3.1 in).
Similar Species: In Georgia, there are two species that could possibly be confused with the Mole Crayfish: Christmas Tree Crayfish, Procambarus pygmaeus, and Poor Crayfish, Procambarus caritus. The Christmas Tree Crayfish typically has striking green and red coloration but details of the male first pleopod are required to separate the Mole Crayfish from Poor Crayfish.
Habitat: The Mole Crayfish is considered a primary burrower and inhabits complex burrow systems low wet areas where the water table is near the surface of the ground.
Diet: No studies of the Mole Crawfish are known and the diet of burrowing crayfishes in general is poorly understood. Crayfishes are considered opportunistic omnivores and likely feed on a variety of items, both plant and animal, living or dead. Burrowing crayfishes may forage around the mouths of their burrows, eat organisms that crawl or fall into the burrow, or eat worms that inadvertently tunnel through a burrow wall.
Life History: Male Mole Crayfish in reproductive condition have been collected in February, March, April, May, October, and December, although most were found in April (Hobbs 1981). Females carrying eggs were found in March, April, and October and females with young in March, May, and October. The females carried from about 35-120 eggs; generally the larger the female, the more eggs carried. The smallest breeding male found is about 44 mm (1.7 in) and the smallest female with eggs or young is about 52 mm (2.0 in), respectively (Hobbs 1981).
Survey Recommendations: Burrowing crayfishes may be collected by direct excavation of their burrows, by trapping, and during night surveys. Excavating burrows is time consuming and can be very difficult. It also results in destruction of the animals’ burrow. Traps made with PVC pipes or mist nets can be effective. Burrowing crayfishes are sometimes captured around the openings of their burrows on damp nights. Active burrows are typically found from about mid-March to mid-November if the water table is within about two feet of the surface of the ground.
Range: The Mole Crayfish ranges from north-central Florida to south-central and southeastern Georgia (Hobbs 1989). In Georgia it inhabits the Altamaha, Ochlockonee, Satilla, and Suwannee river basins (Hobbs 1981).
Threats: This species is apparently secure across its range.
Conservation and Management Recommendations: If possible, areas with burrows should be protected from land disturbing activities. Additional surveys and life history studies are needed to better understand virtually all burrowing crayfishes to allow predictions of their response to environmental change. Environmental education programs should include information about burrowing crayfishes.
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.
Date Compiled or Updated: September 2012