Spiny crayfish Facts

Spiny crayfish Facts
Spiny crayfish is a lobster-like animal that belongs to the family of freshwater crayfish. There are 50 species of spiny crayfish that can be found in the south-eastern parts of Australia. Spiny crayfish inhabit cold, oxygen-rich streams and rivers. They prefer riverbed covered with pebbles, gravel and cobbles. 17 species of spiny crayfish are classified as critically endangered, 17 as endangered and 5 as vulnerable because of the habitat loss, over-collecting from the wild and climate changes.
Interesting Spiny crayfish Facts:
Spiny crayfish can reach from 1.7 to 5.9 inches in length. Large species can reach 4.4 pounds of weight.
Body of spiny crayfish is covered with protective shell called carapace that can be blue, green, rusty-orange, brown or black in color, depending on the species.
Name "spiny" refers to the large number of spines that cover the body of spiny crayfish. Spines are often brightly colored and especially numerous on the tail and claws.
Spiny crayfish has large, pincer-like claws that are used for capturing and slicing of food and for defense against predators.
Spiny crayfish has two pairs of antennas on the head. Sense of touch and balance, located on the antennas, facilitate navigation in the space. Spiny crayfish has compound eyes composed of 7.000 to 30.000 tiny eyes located on top of moveable stalks.
Abdomen of spiny crayfish is divided in 6 segments and it ends with fan-shaped tail.
Spiny crayfish has 8 pairs of legs that are used for walking, swimming and for carrying of the eggs (females).
Spiny crayfish eliminate their protective shell (molt) up to 6 times during the first year of life due to accelerated growth of the body. They are very sensitive during this phase and they usually hide until their new shell become hard enough to ensure protection against numerous freshwater predators.
Spiny crayfish eat various small invertebrates, algae, decaying plant material and carrions. They play important role in keeping the ecosystem clean and healthy through elimination of dead organisms from the water.
Spiny crayfish live in the burrows on the edges of the streams.
Spiny crayfish are important source of food for the frogs, fish and platypuses.
Mating season of spiny crayfish usually takes place during the winter and spring. Reproduction is often triggered by changes in the temperature of the water, light and length of a day.
Female carries 500 to 1.000 eggs on her abdomen (using modified appendages) during 5 to 6 months. Hatchlings look like miniature version of adults. Despite huge number of eggs, only few babies will manage to reach adulthood (due to intense predation).
Spiny crayfish reach sexual maturity late in life, usually at the age of 6 to 9 years and reproduce slowly (females breed once per year).
Spiny crayfish can survive up to 50 years in the wild.

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