Hubbs' Crayfish

Photo of Hubbs' crayfish.
Scientific Name
Cambarus hubbsi
Cambaridae (freshwater crayfish) in the order Decapoda (shrimp, crabs, and lobsters)

Hubbs' crayfish is a powerfully built crayfish that is usually olive tan or reddish brown, without prominent spots or blotches. (In the upper White River drainage, Hubbs' crayfish are bright orange-red.) 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).

Young individuals can occasionally be bright orange.

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.


Adult length: about 1¾ to 3½ inches.

Where To Find
Hubbs' Crayfish Distribution Map

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.

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.

Life Cycle

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

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 and are part of our rich native heritage.

When biologist Edwin P. Creaser first formally described this crayfish as a new species in 1931, he stated, "This species is named for my friend Dr. Carl L. Hubbs." Carl Leavitt Hubbs (1894-1979) worked at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, the University of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Conservation, and Scripps Institution in California. He was an ichthyologist (fish biologist), but as Creaser noted, several other ichthyologists have crayfishes named in their honor. Indeed, many fish specialists, including Missouri's William Pflieger, studied both fishes and crayfishes.

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.

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About Aquatic Invertebrates in Missouri
Missouri's streams, lakes, and other aquatic habitats hold thousands of kinds of invertebrates — worms, freshwater mussels, snails, crayfish, insects, and other animals without backbones. These creatures are vital links in the aquatic food chain, and their presence and numbers tell us a lot about water quality.