Pennsylvania’s Great Outdoors region has hundreds of miles of waterways to explore and most of them contain healthy populations of crayfish.
The PA Fish and Boat Commission say that there are 13 species of native crayfish living in the state’s waterways.
If you find a crayfish body on the stream bottom or along the shoreline, you may assume it is dead. It is most likely a shed crayfish exoskeleton.
They grow a new exoskeleton or shell underneath, and then they shed the old one. The crayfish simply crawls out of their old one, like a snake.
Crayfish have ten legs. The front two legs are claws or pincers that are used for digging in mud, catching prey, cutting food, and for defense. The other eight legs are used for walking on the bottom.
When threatened crayfish escape in reverse by quickly flicking their paddle shaped tail. They use their two pairs of antennas that taste the surrounding water searching for food and possible predators nearby.
Crayfish have compound eyes, like insects, that gives them the ability to see the surroundings without moving. They use gills to breathe so they must have water to survive.
Crayfish are vital food source for many fish, birds, and other animals. Crayfish eat both plants and animals that dead or alive. They are the garbage crew of streams, rivers, and lakes. By eating dead plant and animal matter they help improve water quality.
When spring arrives and you are looking for something to do with the family, consider going looking for crayfish. They are fun to catch and look like mini lobsters.
Find waterways to explore in Pennsylvania’s Great Outdoors region with our free Fishing and Paddling Guide. You can download or request a copy online at VisitPAGO.com/free-information.
Find more fun things to do, see, and experience in Pennsylvania’s Great Outdoors region online at VisitPAGO.com.