Grassland Crayfish (Prairie Crayfish)

Grassland Crayfish (Prairie Crayfish)

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

This crayfish is bright red to reddish-brown, without conspicuous blotches or spots. The pincers are short and heavy, and the high, dome-shaped carapace is longer than the abdomen. The carapace is not separated at its middle by a space (areola).

The grassland crayfish superficially resembles the devil crayfish, another burrowing species. The devil crayfish is never a uniform bright red, as are many adult grassland crayfish. Males of the two species are readily separated by the shape of the gonopod tips (nearly straight in the grassland crayfish, strongly curved in the devil crayfish).

Adult length: about 2 to 3 inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
The grassland crayfish occurs widely in grasslands and prairies of northern and western Missouri. It is sometimes called the prairie crayfish. It lives in burrows that are often a long distance from any surface water. These may be six feet of more in depth. Most public prairies in Missouri support large populations, but this crayfish is seldom seen by visitors because of its secretive habits.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Mostly found in Northern Missouri, north of the Missouri River.
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