Faxonius, named for Walter Faxon (1848-1920), American ornithologist and carcinologist. Former genus, Orconectes, is from Orcus, god of the underworld in Roman mythology + nectes: swimming (Greek); virilis, from Latin for virile.
While generally regarded as a habitat generalist, you’re more likely to find them hiding under logs and rocks or wherever else they can find cover in rivers with moderate to low flow. They emerge at night to forage on a wide range of foods. Detritus makes up about a quarter of the diet, but they’re also active predators. Their larger body and chelae size allow them to predate on small vertebrates (e.g. small fish, reptiles, salamanders, and tadpoles). Though restricted to the bottom of rivers and lakes, virile crayfish can compete with fish, like the flannelmouth sucker, for food resources (source). They can consume large quantities of fish eggs, and in higher abundances can have dramatically negative impacts on bluegill and pumpkinseed reproduction.
Virile crayfish are generally non-burrowing. Many crayfish species will excavate burrows when water levels drop in the summer or freeze in the winter, but virile crayfish are generally non-burrowing. This excludes them from intermittent streams and shallow waters that freeze completely. In winter, they retreat to deeper water where activity rates decline significantly. But, as with most crayfish, mortality in the winter is severe. they’re common throughout the state and easily recognizable by their rather distinctive large bluish claws.
They are solitary creatures, and can maintain rather high population densities. During the day they’ll hunker down in rock crevices or shallow burrows. They emerge to feed at night (adults are more nocturnal than juveniles), where they’ll move up to 200m in a single evening (males move shorter distances but more frequently than females). In cases where crayfish fought for a burrow, the larger crayfish usually won. There appears to be some habitat partitioning, where juveniles utilized the shallows more than adults.
Virile crayfish are edible, and sold commercially in other parts of its range (here in Vermont it is the primary species sold by the Vermont Crawfish Company).