Hubbs’ Crayfish

Cambarus hubbsi

hubbs_crayfish.jpg

Photo of Hubbs' crayfish.
Hubbs’ crayfish has a limited range within the Ozarks of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas.
Chris Lukhaup
Family

Cambaridae (freshwater crayfish) in the order Decapoda (shrimp, crabs, and lobsters)

Description

This powerfully built crayfish is usually olive-tan or reddish brown, without prominent spots or blotches. A narrow blackish band is present at the junction of the carapace and abdomen. The carapace is broad and dorsally flattened (as if pushed down on from above) and is separated at its middle by a space (areola). In the upper White River drainage, Hubbs' crayfish are bright orange-red. Hubbs’ crayfish is distinguished from other stream crayfish within its range by the broad, dorsally flattened carapace, unusually powerful pincers, and nearly uniform color without spots or blotches.

Size

Adult length: about 1¾ to 3½ inches.

Habitat and conservation

Hubbs’ crayfish occurs in the pools and riffles of clear, permanent, high-gradient, rocky streams that range in size from small creeks to moderate-sized rivers. It lives in tunnels that it digs in gravel beneath large rocks. It is seldom seen in the open but probably emerges from its burrow at night to feed.

image of Hubb's Crayfish Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri

This crayfish has a limited range in the Ozarks of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. It occurs in streams on the southern slope of the Ozark Uplands, from Big Creek in Iron County west to the James River in Greene and Christian counties.

Life cycle

This species apparently breeds in the fall and produces eggs in April or May, which is a little later than the Orconectes crayfish species that occur in the same areas.

Human connections

In addition to feeding many types of wildlife, crayfish provide food for many species that humans hunt and fish. Crayfish commonly serve as fish bait, and many people eat crayfish, too. Crayfish are fascinating, colorful creatures in their own right, and part of our rich native heritage.

Ecosystem connections

Crayfish are an important link in the food chain between plants and other animals, breaking down plant materials that are resistant to decay. Crayfish in turn are an important food for many other animals. Presence of crayfish in a stream or pond usually indicates good water quality.