Crayfish Facts


World-Class Diversity

Missouri has at least 35 species of crayfish, more than most neighboring states. This is about 10 percent of the crayfish species found in the United State.

Missouri has seven crayfish species that occur nowhere else in the world.


Each species of crayfish occurs only in certain natural settings; the diversity of crayfish that occur in our state reflects the many types of aquatic habitats in Missouri.

Crayfish can be divided into four broad habitats:

  • Crayfish living in surface streams.
  • Crayfish living in swamps, marshes, and the shallows of ponds and lakes.
  • Crayfish living in burrows away from surface water.
  • Crayfish living in underground streams.

These categories overlap to an extent. For example, some species live for much of the year in seasonally flooded pools, then burrow into the bottom as these pools dry up in summer.

The longpincered crayfish on a bed of rocks.
The longpincered crayfish is large and colorful, with very long, slender, blue-green pincers that are studded with prominent yellowish knobs.
MDC Staff
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  • Crayfish are the largest and most common invertebrates in Missouri. There can be more than 20 per square meter of water.
  • Crayfish are an important food for more than 200 other animals, including bass and catfish.
  • Crayfish are good to eat, and are frequently found in Cajun cooking.
  • The longpincered crayfish (Orconectes longidigitus) can grow over six inches long.