Engaeus cunicularius occurs in south-eastern Victoria. (VIC).
The cephalothorax (head/middle section) is relatively large in comparison to the abdomen (tail section). The claws are large, and the movable finger moves up and down in the vertical plane. The surface of the palm of the large claw usually has a large patch of short hair-like setae and the movable finger is smooth on the upper surface. The body and large claws are smooth and dark-brown overall. The Engaeus quadrimanus is very similar to Engaeus cunicularius but differs in coloration and in the smooth upper surface of the movable finger on the large claws.
Ecology/Way of Life:
Engaeus quadrimanus usually live in lowland areas but may be found up to about 250 m above sea level. Burrows are built in many types of habitat with a wide variety of vegetation types, such as wet or dry sclerophyll forest, warm temperate rainforest, fern lined gullies, swamps or the margins of creeks and rivers. Burrows usually have more than one entrance, and extend down to the water table, after which they turn horizontally, and then extend downwards again to the lowest level of the water table. The burrow entrance is often marked by a chimney or mound formed from soil excavated from the inside of the burrow. Engaeus quadrimanus often occur together with other species of burrowing crayfish. Burrowing crayfish feed primarily on plant roots. Females carry eggs beneath the abdomen until they hatch. Hatchlings resemble tiny adults and live in the burrow with the adults.
Interaction with Humans/Threats:
Engaeus quadrimanus is widely a distributed species and is not considered under threat. As with other burrowing crayfish, the largest potential threat to Engaeus cunicularius is habitat degradation, such as forest clearing and land reclamation.
Engaeus quadrimanus was named by Clark in 1936.
Horwitz, P. (1990). A taxonomic revision of species in the freshwater crayfish genus Engaeus Erichson (Decapoda: Parastacidae). Invertebrate Taxonomy 4(3): 427–614.
Jones, D. S. & Morgan, G. J. (1994). A Field Guide to Crustaceans of Australian Waters. Reed Books, Sydney.
Text and map by Shane Ahyong. Photograph by Patrick Johnson.
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