The European Crayfish (Astacus astacus) is a freshwater crustacean. It is also known as the Noble Crayfish, the Broad-Fingered Crayfish, the European Crawfish, or the European Freshwater Lobster. Crustaceans include shrimp, lobsters, and crabs.
The European Crayfish has a hard, reddish-orange exo-skeleton or outer shell, called a carapace. It is a decapod because it has 10 clawed limbs, with two large front claws called nippers. It has eye stalks. It has gills to breathe oxygen from the water. Its abdomen has six segments, ending with a fan-shaped tail called a telson.
It grows to 12-16 centimetres (5-6 inches) long.
The European Crayfish is native to Europe. It prefers unpolluted, freshwater streams, rivers, and lakes. It is benthic because it lives on the bottom of the river, walking on the sandy floor.
It is nocturnal, active mostly at night. During the day, it rests in a burrow or rock crevice.
It feeds on worms, aquatic insects, molluscs, and plants. Its predators include eels, fish, otters, and muskrats.
The female carries 20-30 eggs under her belly and tail on her swimmerettes. The eggs hatch after 14-21 days.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM