Brazos Bend State Park
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Gator Hatch

Pond Life of Brazos Bend State Park

Crayfish and Freshwater Shrimp: Order Decapoda,

Crayfish are known to all residents of the Gulf coast as crawfish, and are a favorite food, especially in Louisiana and Texas.

They vary in size from about 2 inches to over 6 inches. Their bodies are divided into 2 parts, the abdomen and the cephalothorax, both of which are covered in a hard shell. They have 5 pairs of legs, also covered in shell. Some of the legs end in pincers. The first pair of legs are larger than the others, and the pincers are massive. On the others, the pincers are much smaller or not present.



The abdomen is very muscular and ends in a broad flipper which enables the crayfish to move backwards very quickly. The abdomen is usually the only part of the crayfish that is edible, except for the claws of very large specimens.

Crayfish are usually scavengers, but do occasionally eat live prey such as frogs, small fish and tadpoles or large aquatic insects. They catch these in their large pincers. These pincer can hurt if they lock onto a finger. However if due care is taken, crayfish can be picked up safely by grabbing their shell just behind the pincers.

Crayfish breath through gills on the sides of the cephalothorax. Although they do venture onto land, they must keep the gills wet in order to breath.

Some crayfish make burrows on land which usually go down to the water table. These burrows are topped with mud structures called chimneys, made of balls of mud stacked around the mouth of the burrow.

Crayfish chimney



Freshwater shrimp are also common in the park though not as common as crayfish.. They are about 1-2 inches long. They are usually transparent, and frequently their eggs or internal organs can be seen through their shells. They feed on algae that they scrape off of plants in the water. When captured, they can jump by snapping their tails, and easily escape an open jar, so they need to be kept in covered containers.


Aquatic Sow Bugs - Isopods



Updated: Aug 12, 2011