Orconectes maletae

Kisatchie Painted Crayfish

FWS Focus

Overview

Characteristics
Overview

The Kisatchie painted crayfish (Orconectes maletae) is an elusive, freshwater crayfish found in streams of northeast Texas and Louisiana. While there are few historical records for this species, the Kisatchie painted crayfish is believed to be restricted to the Kisatchie Bayou and Bayou Teche watersheds in Louisiana, and the Cypress Creek watershed in Texas. Crayfish, in general, are keystone species that may indicate the health of a watershed. Recent field surveys determined that the Kisatchie painted crayfish was absent from 60% of its historical range in Texas. Given the small range of this crayfish, habitat loss and invasive crayfish species may negatively impact the Kisatchie painted crayfish. It is listed as a species of special concern by the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program.

Crandall, K.A. and J.E. Buhay. 2007. Global diversity of crayfish (Astacidae, Cambaridae, and Parastacidae—Decapoda) in freshwater. Hydrobiologia 595:295—301.

Taylor, C.A., G.A. Schuster, J.E. Cooper, R.J. DiStefano, A.G. Eversole, P. Hamr, H.H. Hobbs, H.W. Robison, C.E. Skelton, and R.F. Thoma. 2007. A reassessment of the conservation status of crayfishes of the United States and Canada after 10+ years of increased awareness. Fisheries 32:372—389.

Scientific Name

Orconectes maletae
Common Name
Kisatchie Painted Crayfish
FWS Category
Crustaceans
Kingdom

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers

TSN:

Characteristics

Characteristic category

Food

Characteristics
Food

Generally, crayfish diet consists of decaying organic material from plants and animals, as well as algae, aquatic invertebrates and other crustaceans and mollusks.

Characteristic category

Behavior

Characteristics
Behavior

Very little is known about the Kisatchie painted crayfish’s behavior, however, it is dependent on water and spends most of its time in stream environments. Based on other crayfish, it is likely most active at night, or nocturnal, and spends most of the daytime under rocks, stream banks or other underwater hiding places. Crayfish walk forward slowly using their five pairs of jointed legs, but can swim fast backwards by rapidly curling their abdomen with its flipper-like tail underneath the body. This allows them to escape predators.

Characteristic category

Life Cycle

Characteristics
Reproduction

The Kisatchie painted crayfish is reproductively active in September and October, which is unlike other crayfish that generally reproduce in the spring. The male crayfish molts prior to reproduction, and again in the winter into the non-reproductive form. Female crayfish carry the eggs on special appendages on the tail until they hatch in May.

Citations: Clifford 1991. Aquatic invertebrates of Alberta. Edmonton Alberta, Canada: University of Alberta Press.

McCarley, J.L. 2019. The status of the Kisatchie painted crayfish (Faxonius maleate) in Louisiana. Master’s Thesis, University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, Texas.

Lifecycle

Juvenile crayfish hatch from eggs in May and stay attach to the tails of their mother until they are able to swim freely.

Male crayfish exist in two forms:

  • The reproductive form - which occurs generally in the fall
  • The non-reproductive form the rest of the year

Clifford 1991. Aquatic invertebrates of Alberta. Edmonton Alberta, Canada: University of Alberta Press.

McCarley, J.L. 2019. The status of the Kisatchie painted crayfish (Faxonius maleate) in Louisiana. Master’s Thesis, University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, Texas.

Lifespan

Kisatchie painted crayfish generally live about two years.

Walls, J.G. 1985. Distribution and natural history of the crawfish Orconectes difficilis (Decapoda: Astacidae) in Louisiana. Southwestern Naturalist 30: 189-194.

Characteristic category

Habitat

Characteristics
Habitat

Little is known about the habitat requirements of the Kisatchie painted crayfish. The species was historically collected in freshwater streams with sand, gravel, mud or silt streambeds in northeast Texas and Louisiana. However, the Texas habitat is more stagnant and muddier when compared to Louisiana. Kisatchie painted crayfish may prefer streams with varying water depth, heavy leaf litter and cobble-lined stream bottoms.

Walls, J.G. 1985. Distribution and natural history of the crawfish Orconectes difficilis (Decapoda: Astacidae) in Louisiana. Southwestern Naturalist 30:189-194.

River or Stream

A natural body of running water.

Forest

A dense growth of trees and underbrush covering a large tract.

Characteristic category

Physical Characteristics

Characteristics
Weight

The Kisatahie crayfish weighs from 0.10 to 1.06 ounces (3 to 30 grams).

McCarley, J.L. 2019. The status of the Kisatchie painted crayfish (Faxonius maleate) in Louisiana. Master’s Thesis, University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, Texas.

Size & Shape

Kisatchie painted crayfish are characterized by an olive-colored hard upper shell, known as a carapace, and red markings on the chelae, or claws, and legs, as well as above the eyes.

MeasurementsLength: 2.0 to 4.0 in (50 to 102 cm)

McCarley, J.L. 2019. The status of the Kisatchie painted crayfish (Faxonius maleate) in Louisiana. Master’s Thesis, University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, Texas.

Color & Pattern

The Kisatchie painted crayfish is olive-colored over most of its body, but gets it common name from the red markings that look like they were painted on the claws, legs and above the eyes.

McCarley, J.L. 2019. The status of the Kisatchie painted crayfish (Faxonius maleate) in Louisiana. Master’s Thesis, University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, Texas.

Geography

Characteristics
Range

The Kisatchie painted crayfish has a small range in northeast Texas and central Louisiana.

McCarley, J.L. 2019. The status of the Kisatchie painted crayfish (Faxonius maleate) in Louisiana. Master’s Thesis, University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, Texas.