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Species Description


Cambarus (Hiaticambarus) speciosus


Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Family: Cambaridae


The carapace of Cambarus speciosus is orange-tan with greenish or brownish markings. The abdominal segments are mostly greenish-gray, but many are marked with a narrow red band and large tan splotch. The tail is olive-colored with colorful orange portions. The rostrum has a distinct tip, with reddish-orange margins. Chelae (claws) are about 2.5 times as long as broad, with at least 1 well-defined row of 6-9 tubercles (small bumps). The areola is fairly broad and adorned with 7-10 spots or pits. The carapace length of this crayfish usually measures less than 46 mm (1.8 in). The total body length is often less than 92 mm (3.6 in). Speciosus is Latin for beautiful and this species is named for its "strikingly pleasing coloration."

Life Cycle

There have been relatively few life history studies conducted on crayfish. The available life history data for Cambarus speciosus is limited to the form or condition of specimens collected during certain times of the year. First-form (sexually mature) males have been collected during April, September and October. Egg-bearing females have been collected during April. The life cycle of this species is presumed to be fairly similar to the generalized crayfish life history described below. Copulation has not been observed, but probably occurs from autumn to spring. Copulation involves a sexually mature male crayfish grabbing a female and depositing sperm packages (spermatophores) into the seminal receptacle on the abdomen of a receptive female crayfish. Usually during the spring, females secrete a sticky substance on the underside of their abdomen and pleopods in order to attach their eggs. The eggs and sperm (from the seminal receptacle) are then released upon the sticky surface and fertilization occurs. A female carrying eggs on her abdomen and legs is said to be "in berry." The number of eggs that a female is carrying appears to vary with the size of the female. Larger females typically carry more eggs than smaller females. Embryos develop and hatch on the underside of females in 2-20 weeks, likely depending upon species and temperature. The immature hatchlings molt (shed their exoskeleton to allow growth) and remain attached to their mother. These first-stage immature crayfish look fairly similar to typical crayfish, but have disproportionately large heads and eyes. Another molting takes place in about 1-2 weeks. These second-stage immature crayfish look even more like adult crayfish. Second-stage or third-stage immature crayfish leave their mother's surface and become independent. These young crayfish continue molting and growing and are usually sexually mature by their second or third autumn. Sexually mature males and females are believed to mate between autumn and spring. Many adult crayfish die within 3 years of hatching.

Natural History

with other crayfish. Male crayfish are especially aggressive with one another and their claw-to-claw combat can be quite intense.


This species has a very limited range. It is only found in a small portion of the Coosawattee River basin within Pickens, Gilmer and Murray Counties in Georgia . It prefers moderate to swift-flowing streams.

Conservation Status

Cambarus speciosus is rare in Georgia . It has a small range and is believed to have small populations. Construction of Carter's Dam and other impoundments have already fragmented and destroyed portions of this crayfish's habitat.

Similar Species

This species is fairly distinct within its range. Its beautiful combination of colors and distinct rostrum distinguishes this crayfish from others within Georgia .