White River Crayfish, Procambarus acutus

OTHER COMMON NAMES

None

ETYMOLOGY

Procambarus = pro: early, first (Greek) + cambarus: genus of a related group of crayfish; acutus: sharp or pointed (Latin)

Ecology, Habitat, & Behavior

The common refrain to crayfish is that not much is known about their life cycle certainly applies here. Interestingly, they’re commonly used in aquaculture, so it’s possible that while this information may not be widely published in the scientific community, it is more common knowledge commercially.

White River crayfish are common in a wide range of slow water habitats (sloughs, lakes, , and can dig extensive burrows to avoid drought and cold (though they are a more temperate species). In the fall, males will enter the burrows of females for mating. Their gills are capable of uptaking atmospheric oxygen while in their burrows (though they still require moisture to do so). Their burrows can be 30-40cm deep and terminate in an open chamber. The entrances to burrows are marked by chimneys that can be as much as 6″ high.

QUICK FACTS

Avg carapace length: 1-1.25 inchesLife expectancy: 1-2 yearsAge at maturity: 1st or 2nd summerHabitat: Generalist of slow moving waters and permanent swamps, ponds, & lakes# of eggs: 100-500 (source)Diet: Opportunistic generalist (largely unknown)Native or non-native: Non-native (not yet detected in Vermont)Activity pattern:

Nocturnal

Uses: Aquaculture

Life History Event Date/Season
Mating Fall
Fertilization Delayed, spring
Laying Eggs Spring
Hatch in about 3 weeks
Young detach from female Quickly, before females leave their burrows (though unclear exactly how long they stay attached)
Males in F1 Have been found year round
Males in F2 Have been found year round (source)

Key features for ID + similar species

  1. Juveniles’ carapaces and chelae are spotted
  2. Carapace is conspicuously bumpy as adults
  3. F1 males have hooks on 3rd and 4th walking legs (as with P. clarkii)
ROSTRUM

Triangular, tapering to prominent acumen, lacking accessory spines. Margin often with tubercles or spines.

COLOR/MARKINGS

Body color variable, from a pinkish or light brown to burgundy body, abdomen with a very dark wedge-shaped stripe down the top. Tubercles on body and chelae are light tan in color. Sides of the carapace are covered in small tubercles, giving it a rough appearance/texture.

CHELAE

Long and narrow, occasionally spotted (particularly in juveniles). Dactyls recurved.

AREOLA

Narrow, but open areola (moreso than with P. clarkii).

Range map for White River Crayfish

Range map based on observations from iNaturalist.org

General Research on Crayfish

  • NOBANIS: Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet : source
  • Crayfish of the White River Watershed: source
  • Crayfish curriculum for educators: source
  • The Crayfishes of New England: source
  • Species of Ontario Crayfish: source
  • Lecture on Crayfish: video
  • Some aspects of the life histories of three closely related crayfish species, Orconectes obscurusO. sanborni, and O. propinquussource
  • Dictionary of crayfish names: source
  • Biological synopsis of the rusty crayfish: source
  • Observations on the life cycle of Procambarus acutus acutus in South Carolina culture ponds: source
  • Natural History of the two Crayfish of Northwestern Iowa, Orconectes virilis and Orconectes immunis: source

Crayfish of Vermont species profiles