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Euastacus hirsutus (Family Parastacidae)

Hairy Crayfish

Distribution:

Euastacus hirsutus occurs only in New South Wales, ranging from the Roberston and Bundanoon areas, to Mount Keira, Wollongong, and Minnamurra Falls. They live in creeks and streams drained by small eastern flowing creeks including the Minnamurra and Cambewarra Creeks. (NSW)

Features:

The body is usually covered with very short, fine setae giving it a fuzzy or hairy appearance. Euastacus hirsutus reach a maximum length of about 10 cm. They are a dark green-brown colour above and a pale yellow-orange colour below. Large specimens often have a blackish appearance because of encrusted detritus and stains on the surface of the body.

Ecology/Way of Life:

Euastacus hirsutus live in shaded streams bordered by temperate rainforest or dry sclerophyll at altitudes between 200 and 600 m above sea level, particularly in areas with sandstone bedrock. Juveniles usually live beneath rocks and logs on the stream bottom, whereas adults usually live in burrows in the stream banks. The burrows may have two entrances, with one above the waterline, and the other below the waterline. Adults are most active at night, but also actively forage in daylight. They feed mostly on semi-decayed plant matter and any type of animal matter that it can scavenge or capture. The range of Euastacus hirsutus sometimes overlaps with Euastacus yanga in the Robertson area, but the two species have never been found in the same stream. Euastacus hirsutus females carry eggs through the winter, after which they hatch through spring and summer.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The species is not presently under threat because most populations are within national parks. However, as with other species of spiny crayfish, water pollution and habitat destruction such as land clearing around the borders and headwaters of creeks and streams, could threaten the species.

Other Comments:

Euastacus hirsutus was named by McCulloch in 1917. The name is derived from the Latin word hirsutus, alluding to the hairy or fuzzy appearance that the body of the crayfish often has.

Further Reading:

Merrick, J. R. (1993). Freshwater Crayfishes of New South Wales. Linnaean Society of New South Wales.

Morgan, G. (1997). Freshwater crayfish of the genus Euastacus Clark (Decapoda: Parastacidae) from New South Wales, with a key to all species of the genus. Records of the Australian Museum, Supplement 23: 1–110.

Acknowledgments:

Text, map and photograph by Shane Ahyong.

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