Common Name: WANDERING CRAYFISH
Scientific Name: Procambarus (Leconticambarus) barbatus (Faxon)
Rarity Ranks: G5/S5
State Legal Status: None
Federal Legal Status: None
Description: The overall color of the Wandering Crayfish is tan to brown. Some specimens have a pale stripe down the entire length of the body while others lack this stripe and have more of a speckled appearance (Hobbs 1981). Striped individuals also have dark speckles on the carapace. The claws are brown with darker tubercles and on adult males there is a conspicuous brush of setae along the mesial margin of the palm. The areola is fairly wide and the rostrum gradually tapers and is rather spoon-shaped; there are no marginal spines or tubercles. This species reaches a maximum total body length of about 62 mm (2.5 in).
Similar Species: The combination of characters above should serve to separate the Wandering Crayfish from all others with which it might occur. Some individuals of the Ditch Fencing Crayfish, Faxonella clypeata have a pale stripe down the center of the body, but their moveable finger is shorter than the mesial margin of the palm.
Habitat: The Wandering Crayfish is considered a secondary burrower and is thus found in open water and simple burrows in ditches and other temporary aquatic habitats where the water table is near the surface of the ground. The burrows it constructs are typically much simpler than those of primary burrowing species.
Diet: No studies of the Wandering 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 Wandering Crayfish in reproductive condition have been collected in all months except July, October, and November. Eight females carrying eggs were found in April, four in May, and one in June (Hobbs 1981). The smallest breeding male known is about 36 mm (1.4 in) and the smallest female with eggs is about 36 mm as well (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. When rains fill the temporary habitats with which this species associates and the mouths of their burrows are inundated, they may be caught by seining or dipnetting (Hobbs 1981).
Range: The Wandering Crayfish is found in southeastern Georgia between the Altamaha and Savannah rivers, and in South Carolina between the Savannah and Edisto rivers (Hobbs 1981).
Threats: This species is apparently secure across its range.
Conservation and Management Recommendations: General watershed level protection measures will help secure the continued existence of the Wandering 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