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Cherax quadricarinatus (Family Parastacidae)

Redclaw

Distribution:

Redclaws naturally occur in the eastern Northern Territory, north-western Queensland, and southern Papua New Guinea. However, because of the value of the Redclaw in aquaculture, it has been introduced to southern Queensland and northern New South Wales for aquaculture. The Redclaw has also been introduced to various countries in South-east Asia, North and South America, and Africa for aquaculture. (NT, QLD, NSW)

Features:

The Redclaw has a smooth body that is blue-green to brown in colour. The carapace has four ridges on the upper frontal surface. The rostrum has several small spines on the margins. The claws are slender, and in adult males, the outer, lower margin of the palm has a soft, red, patch. Redclaws reach a body size of about 25 cm and a weight of 400 g.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Redclaw is a tropical species that naturally occurs in the rivers of north Queensland, the Northern Territory and southern Papua New Guinea. Redclaws live under rocks or logs as well as in burrows. They prefer neutral to slightly alkaline water and feed on semi-decayed plant materials as well as small water insects or other animal matter, including dead carcasses. In the tropics, breeding can occur year round. Eggs are laid about 24 hours after mating, and as with other crayfish, the eggs are carried under the abdomen of the mother. Eggs incubate for about 3–5 weeks in the warmer months and about 8 weeks in winter. Juveniles show sexual characteristics at about 5 months and reach maturity in 6–12 months.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The Redclaw is one of the most important commercially farmed crayfish species in Australia. It is less aggressive than the Yabby (Cherax destructor) and so can be stocked more densely in aquaculture ponds. The Redclaw is a tropical species and less tolerant of cool water temperatures than other commercial species (Yabby and Marron). Therefore, the Redclaw is farmed where water temperatures are suitable, from Queensland south to the mid-north coast of New South Wales.

Other Comments:

Cherax quadricarinatus was named by von Martens in 1868. The species name is derived from the Latin quad meaning four and, carinatus meaning ridged, referring to the four ridges on the upper surface of the carapace.

Further Reading:

Merrick, J. R. & C. N. Lambert. (1991). The Yabby, Marron and Red Claw: Production and Marketing. J.R. Merrick Publications, Artarmon.

Jones, D. S. & G. J. Morgan. (1994). A Field Guide to Crustaceans of Australian Waters. Reed Books, Sydney.

Acknowledgments:

Text, map and photograph by Shane Ahyong.

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