Red Swamp Crayfish (Procambarus clarkii)

Credit: "Procambarus clarkii." Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Credit: "Procambarus clarkii top" by Duloup - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Where did it come from?

  • The red swamp crayfish is native to the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River drainage.
  • It was probably introduced through aquaculture because it is a popular food worldwide.

Why is it a problem?

  • The red swamp crayfish can be a host for parasites and diseases.
  • It also aggressively competes with native crayfish and other species for food and habitat.

What does it look like?
  • Including claws, the red swamp crayfish can grow up to five inches long.
  • It has a dark red body and claws, with spiky, bright red bumps.
  • There is also a black wedge-shaped stripe on its underside.

What habitat does it prefer?
  • The red swamp crayfish lives in flowing and non-flowing fresh and salt water.
  • It chooses areas of streams and ditches with organic debris.

How does it spread?
  • The red swamp crayfish was probably accidentally released from aquaculture operations, bait buckets or the live-food trade.
  • It can walk several miles overland to a new pond.