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Devil Crayfish

Cambarus diogenes

The devil crayfish is one of the most widespread crayfish species in North America. (Mean and Pinchy/Flickr)
The devil crayfish is one of the most widespread crayfish species in North America. (Mean and Pinchy/Flickr)

The devil crayfish is a brownish red crustacean that resembles a miniature lobster. They typically have red-tipped claws. They can be found burrowing in forested areas where the water table is near the surface.

Appearance:

Devil crayfish look like miniature lobsters and are related to crabs and shrimps. They display a variety of colors, including brown, reddish brown, blue and green. They can grow to be 3 to 4 ½ inches in length.

Habitat:

Live in forested habitats where the water table is near the surface; prefer habitats with fine sediment

Range:

One of the most widespread crayfish species in North America; can be found in every state east of the Rocky Mountains and south of New York and New Jersey

Feeding:

They are scavengers that feed most often on decaying aquatic vegetation and will also consume dead animal matter, snails, insects and aquatic worms.

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

Mating rituals for devil crayfish last about 30 minutes. Females lay eggs in late spring, attaching them to their abdomen to protect them during the brooding process. Baby crayfish stay attached to their mother until they have completed their second molt, at which point they drop off and live independently. Adults live for two to three years on average.

Other Facts:

  • The burrows of devil crayfish can be recognized by their cone-shaped “mud chimney” entryways.
  • Devil crayfish are nocturnal, unless emerging from their burrow to breed.
  • Localized population declines can occur as a result of pollution related to agricultural and stormwater runoff. 

Sources and Additional Information:




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