Critter of the Week – Crayfish

This wet year seems to have been especially good for crayfish, as we’ve been finding them all over. This particularly nice specimen was actually found on our road, near the top of the ridge, after one of our major rainstorms. This was an especially worthwhile find, as we discovered she was carrying a large load of very new babies under her tail:

Of the 28 or so crayfish varieties present in Missouri, four are really common in our area, which is classified as prairie for the purposes of crayfish habitat. Looking at these four (first four listed here), the Papershell, Northern, Devil, and Prairie crayfishes, I’m pretty sure this one is a Prairie crayfish. Notice that the other three have very long pincers, whereas the Prairie has very short, stubby pincers. Also, the Prairie prefers grassland and former grassland habitats farther from water than the others, which fits its location near the top of the ridge adjacent to open and partly overgrown ground. Fun fact: their burrows can extend more than six feet underground.

As usual, the Missouri Department of Conservation has an excellent set of web resources on crayfish. Those who are interested will quite enjoy browsing their information.

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