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Fish Crayfish

White-Clawed Cayfish - Photo: The Environment Agency Photo: The Environment Agency

UK Safari Tip:
Crayfish can generally be found hiding under large stones and rocks during the day.

 

Latin name: Austropotamobius pallipes

Size: Grows to around 10cms.

Distribution: Rare. Confined mainly to a few streams and lakes in the north. Cumbria is a stronghold for this species.

Months seen: All year round

Habitat: Streams, rivers and lakes.

Food: Snails, aquatic insects and small fish

Special features: Crayfish are relatives of the lobster, and have five pairs of walking legs. The front pair feature large pincers for catching prey. They can be found under rocks or in holes in the bank.

There is more than one species of crayfish in Britain. In 1970 the American Signal Crayfish (Pacifastacus lenusculus) was introduced to the UK for the restaurant trade.

Our native White-Clawed Crayfish, as the name suggests, has a creamy-white or peach colouring under the claws. These native British crayfish breed from the age of three-four years. The females produce up to 200 eggs, and the young hatch between May and June.

The invasive American Signal Crayfish can be identified by bright red colouring under the claws and white patches on claw joints. They can breed from the age of one, and the females produce up to 500 eggs. The young hatch between April and May. They are more aggressive than our native crayfish.

Click for a better viewThe Signal Crayfish takes over the territories of our native species and also carry the 'crayfish plague', a deadly fungal disease which has virtually wiped out our native White-Clawed Crayfish.

Signal crayfish dominate in the south and east of the country. In the last decade, native crayfish strongholds have shrunk towards the north.


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