Common Name: POOR CRAYFISH
Scientific Name: Procambarus (Hagenides) caritus Hobbs
Rarity Ranks: G4/S3
State Legal Status: None
Federal Legal Status: None
Description: The overall color of the Poor Crayfish is brown with no distinguishing markings; however, it may have a pinkish or olive hue on the carapace and/or abdomen. 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. The mesial margin of the palm has a single row of jagged tubercles. The areola is very narrow. The rostrum tapers, is concave, and almost spatulate; there are no marginal spines or tubercles. This species reaches a maximum total body length of about 65 mm (2.6 in).
Similar Species: Within its range, there are two species that could possibly be confused with the Poor Crayfish: Christmas Tree Crayfish, Procambarus pygmaeus, and Mole Crayfish, Procambarus talpoides. The Christmas Tree Crayfish typically has striking green and red coloration but details of the male first pleopod are required to separate the Poor Crayfish from the Mole Crayfish.
Habitat: The Poor Crayfish is considered a primary burrower and inhabits complex burrow systems in low wet areas where the water table is near the surface of the ground.
Diet: No studies of the Poor Crayfish 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 Poor Crayfish in reproductive condition have been collected in April, although Hobbs (1981) reported that three non-reproductive males molted into reproductive condition in the laboratory in September and October. A female carrying eggs and young was found in April, one with eggs was found in September, and one with larger young (~0.8 in) in the burrow was also found in September (Hobbs 1981). The smallest breeding male found is about 50 mm (2.0 in) and the smallest female with eggs is about 60 mm (2.4 in) in length (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: Poor Crayfish are known only from Georgia in the Altamaha, Ocmulgee, Oconee, and Satilla river systems.
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.
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