Grassland crayfish:

Text and photos by Roger F. Thoma

Procambarus gracilis
, Grassland crayfish:

I recently collected this species of crayfish in northwest Indiana while working on the Indiana Burrowing Crayfish Project. It is a primary burrower and is known to dig burrows up to 2 meters deep in areas of prairie habitat. They are easy to "pump" out of their burrows as they come to the top of the burrow shortly after you pump the water with your fist. They will even return to the top after you try to grab them and miss! Unlike other North American burrowing crayfish, the grassland crayfish walks on land with it's body held off the ground (like a spider). Other burrowers I have observed tend to drag or push their bodies across land while walking above ground. This species is very fast to respond to movements and can turn it's body around to face you (chelae up) very quickly. The adults are reported to come out of their burrows on warm and humid or rainy nights. Other burrowers usually come out only on rainy nights. One has to wonder what they eat. Their ability to move so rapidly makes me wonder if they're not predators though I'm sure they eat some vegetation.