FWS Focus



The Hell Creek cave crayfish was first described from five specimens collected from Hell Creek Cave and documented by H.H. Hobbs and M.S. Bedinger in 1964. The species is stygobitic, lacks pigment and eyes, and has an overall body length reaching 2.5 to 3.0 inches. Biology and life history are not well understood as very limited data is available regarding life span, fecundity, egg and fry survival or other aspects of the Hell Creek cave crayfish's ecology.

Scientific Name

Cambarus zophonastes
Common Name
Hell Creek cave crayfish
cave crayfish
FWS Category

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers



Characteristic category

Life Cycle

Life Span

No research on lifespan of Hell Creek cave crayfish has been conducted. However, cave crayfish research in Florida suggests life spans of 40 years or more.


No research on reproduction of Hell Creek cave crayfish has been done. However, an ovigerous, or egg bearing, female was discovered in Hell Creek Cave, suggesting reproduction occurs in the late winter and spring months as documented by Kenneth L. Smith in 1984. It is suggested that higher water levels and nutrient inputs at that time of year may trigger reproduction.

Characteristic category



The Hell Creek cave crayfish is extremely rare, only occurring in three caves and a spring in Stone County, and second spring, discovered in 2010, in Marion County, Arkansas. The crayfish have been found in deep pools a short distance into these caves, as well as on muddy stream bottoms, cave stream walls and other in-stream habitats. However, specific habitat preferences have not been studied and are not readily apparent to trained observers.

Cave or Karst
Characteristic category

Physical Characteristics

Size & Shape

Hell Creek cave crayfish have an overall body length reaching 63 to 76 mm. 


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