Endangered Species
Midwest Region



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Purple cat's paw mussels in the palm of a hand.


Purple Cat's Paw Pearlymussel (Epioblasma obliquata obliquata)


Purple cat's paw mussels, showing the inside of the shells - a deep purple and the source of their name.

Photo by Angie Boyer; USFWS


Status: Endangered, listed July 10, 1990 (links to a 5-page PDF)


Habitat: Gravel riffles of medium to large rivers


Lead Region: 3


Region 3 Lead Office: Ohio Field Office


Range: Ohio

The purple cat's paw pearlymussel is one of our rarest freshwater mussels and it is truly on the brink of extinction. When listed in 1990, some live adults could be found but they were too old to reproduce. We thought that the species was functionally extinct. In 1994, surveyors found a reproducing population in Killbuck Creek, Ohio.


The purple cat's paw is considered a medium-sized mussel. The males grow to about 2.75 inches in length and the females about half that size. The inside of their shells is purplish to deep purple.


Five-Year Review April 2015 (17-page PDF Adobe PDF Icon)


Saving America's Most Endangered Animals by Jeff St. Clair at WKSU Radio in Ohio (Sept. 9, 2013)


The Challenge of Preventing the Extinction of an Aquatic Species


Fact sheet


USFWS Reynoldsburg Ohio Field Office's Fact Sheet


Species Profile (on FWS national site)


Recovery Plan (32-page PDF; 2.4MB)


EPA (August 29, 2007) Status and Life History of the Three Assessed Mussels: Fat Pocketbook, Purple Cat's Paw, Northern Riffleshell (24-page PDF)


Mussels Home


Midwest Endangered Species Home


Last updated: January 17, 2018