Freshwater crayfish


Crayfish, also known as crawfish, are a freshwater crustacean that look similar to a mini lobster.  They are invertebrates, meaning they do not have a backbone.  However, they do have a armor like exterior called an exoskeleton, or shell.  There are over 500 species of crayfish found on earth and almost 400 of them live in North America, mostly in the United States.    

Crayfish grow to about seven inches in length as a mature adult, although some can grow larger.  They live most of their lives in the water and are able to breathe underwater through their gills.  They spend most of their time on the bottom of the waterway they live in, and mostly feed on small aquatic animals or aquatic plants, both living and decomposing.  To search for food, crayfish can walk on the bottom by using ten legs (pair of claws and 4 pairs of walking legs) and their antennae to taste the water and food around them.  If they need to avoid a predator, they can use their large fan shaped tail to quickly swim backward and escape danger.  

Crayfish have been around for a long time.  The oldest fossil on records shows that crayfish have been around for thirty (30) million years.  Since they have been around for so long, it is clear they are very good at adapting to their surroundings.  They will often change colors as the seasons change, going from a dark green, to dark green and orange, and even dark green and blue.  

Since crayfish live in a lot of the same habitat as gamefish, they are a favorite meal for many species of fish.  Crayfish are often eaten by largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, catfish, trout and pike.  Also, humans also eat a lot of cooked crayfish - over 50,000 tons per year.  


HABITAT:  Rocky bottoms, gravel bottom, swamps, sandy bottoms, underwater caves

RANGE: Worldwide

LIFESPAN: 2 to 4 years


DIET: Omnivore

NICKNAMES: Crawfish, crawdads, freshwater lobster, mudbugs, yabbies

FUN FACT: The Crayfish is the official crustacean of the state of Lousiana. 

Tags: kids-club  -s  -  animal 


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