The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Faxonius rusticus
Faxonius rusticus
(Rusty Crayfish)
Native Transplant
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Faxonius rusticus (Girard, 1852)

Common name: Rusty Crayfish

Synonyms and Other Names: Orconectes rusticus (Girard, 1852). Faxonius rusticus underwent a reclassification in August 2017, changing the genus of non-cave dwelling Orconectes to Faxonius (Crandall and De Grave 2017).

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Brownish-green body with dark, rusty-red spots on either side of carapace (Page 1985). Dark brown section on dorsal abdomen (Gunderson 2008). Large chelae with an oval gap when closed. The dactyl is smooth and S-shaped (Gunderson 2008). Tips of chelae are red with black bands (Page 1985).

Size: Reaches a maximum of 10 cm in length, with males tending to be larger than females. Reaches maturity at about 3.5 cm (Gunderson 2008).

Native Range: Ohio River basin, spanning tributaries in Western Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Northern Tennessee; cryptogenic in Lake Erie (Creaser 1931, Hobbs 1974, Momot et al. 1978, Page 1985, Hobbs et al. 1989, Taylor 2000).

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Puerto Rico &
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Guam Saipan
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Faxonius rusticus are found here.

StateYear of earliest observationYear of last observationTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
Alabama200020002Cahaba; Middle Coosa
Colorado200920112Alamosa-Trinchera; Upper Yampa
Connecticut198920163Housatonic; Lower Hudson; New England Region
Illinois1906201520Apple-Plum; Chicago; Des Plaines; Green; Kankakee; Kishwaukee; Lake Michigan; Little Calumet-Galien; Lower Fox; Lower Illinois-Lake Chautauqua; Lower Illinois-Senachwine Lake; Lower Rock; Middle Rock; Pecatonica; Pike-Root; Salt; Sugar; Upper Fox; Upper Illinois; Vermilion
Iowa197820164Maquoketa; Middle Iowa; Upper Cedar; Upper Wapsipinicon
Maine198920034Dead; Lower Androscoggin; Lower Kennebec; New England Region
Maryland1995201219Cacapon-Town; Chester-Sassafras; Chincoteague; Choptank; Conococheague-Opequon; Gunpowder-Patapsco; Lower Potomac; Lower Susquehanna; Mid Atlantic Region; Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan; Middle Potomac-Catoctin; Monocacy; Nanticoke; North Branch Potomac; Patuxent; Pokomoke-Western Lower Delmarva; Severn; Tangier; Youghiogheny
Massachusetts198919891New England Region
Michigan1992201835Au Gres-Rifle; Au Sable; Betsie-Platte; Black-Macatawa; Boardman-Charlevoix; Brule; Carp-Pine; Cass; Cheboygan; Clinton; Dead-Kelsey; Detroit; Huron; Lake Erie; Lake Huron; Lake Michigan; Lake St. Clair; Lone Lake-Ocqueoc; Lower Grand; Manistee; Menominee; Muskegon; Ontonagon; Ottawa-Stony; Pere Marquette-White; Raisin; Saginaw; St. Clair; St. Joseph; St. Marys; Tacoosh-Whitefish; Tahquamenon; Thunder Bay; Tittabawassee; Upper Wisconsin
Minnesota1967201723Baptism-Brule; Big Fork; Clearwater-Elk; Crow Wing; Des Moines Headwaters; East Fork Des Moines; Elk-Nokasippi; La Crosse-Pine; Lake Superior; Leech Lake; Lower Rainy; Lower St. Croix; Mississippi Headwaters; Otter Tail; Prairie-Willow; Rainy Headwaters; Red Lakes; Rush-Vermillion; St. Louis; Twin Cities; Upper Cedar; Upper St. Croix; Vermilion
Nebraska200720162Big Papillion-Mosquito; Lewis and Clark Lake
Nevada201620161Las Vegas Wash
New Hampshire198919891New England
New Jersey196820174Hackensack-Passaic; Mid-Atlantic Region; Middle Delaware-Mongaup-Brodhead; Rondout
New Mexico19891989*
New York1978201311Chemung; Chenango; East Branch Delaware; Hackensack-Passaic; Housatonic; Lower Hudson; Middle Hudson; Mohawk; Rondout; Schoharie; Upper Susquehanna
North Carolina199920153Upper Broad; Upper Catawba; Upper Little Tennessee
Ohio189720105Ashtabula-Chagrin; Cedar-Portage; Huron-Vermilion; Lake Erie; Sandusky
Oregon200520132Lower John Day; Upper John Day
Pennsylvania1976201612Lake Erie; Lower Juniata; Lower Susquehanna; Lower Susquehanna-Swatara; Owego-Wappasening; Pine; Raystown; Schuylkill; Shenango; Sinnemahoning; Upper Juniata; Upper Susquehanna-Tunkhannock
South Dakota201520151Lewis and Clark Lake
Vermont198920113Lake Champlain; Upper Connecticut-Mascoma; White
West Virginia197720113Lower Kanawha; Raccoon-Symmes; Twelvepole
Wisconsin1957201743Bad-Montreal; Baraboo; Beartrap-Nemadji; Black; Black-Presque Isle; Brule; Buffalo-Whitewater; Castle Rock; Coon-Yellow; Des Plaines; Door-Kewaunee; Duck-Pensaukee; Eau Claire; Flambeau; Jump; La Crosse-Pine; Lake Dubay; Lake Michigan; Lake Winnebago; Lower Chippewa; Lower Fox; Lower St. Croix; Lower Wisconsin; Manitowoc-Sheboygan; Menominee; Middle Rock; Milwaukee; Namekagon; Oconto; Ontonagon; Pecatonica; Peshtigo; Pike-Root; Red Cedar; South Fork Flambeau; Sugar; Upper Chippewa; Upper Fox; Upper Fox; Upper Rock; Upper St. Croix; Upper Wisconsin; Wolf
Wyoming200320121Glendo Reservoir

Table last updated 4/18/2018

† Populations may not be currently present.

* HUCs are not listed for states where the observation(s) cannot be approximated to a HUC (e.g. state centroids or Canadian provinces).

Ecology: Faxonius rusticus inhabits lakes, ponds, and streams, preferring areas with rocks, logs, or other debris for shelter. Clay, silt, sand, gravel, and rock all serve as suitable bottom types. However, F. rusticus prefers cobble habitat, which allows it to hide if necessary (Taylor and Redmer 1996). This species can thrive in areas of high flow or in standing water, but unlike other species of crayfish that can burrow in the sediment when water conditions decline, the rusty crayfish must have clear, well-oxygenated water year-round to survive (Capelli 1982 and Gunderson 2008). It is usually found at water depths < 1 meter, though it has been found as deep as 14.6 meters in Lake Michigan (Taylor and Redmer 1996). Adults typically occupy pool areas of >20 cm depth, while juveniles are usually found in shallower areas (<15 cm depth) bordering stream edges (Butler and Stein 1985).

Mature rusty crayfish mate in late summer, early fall, or early spring. The female stores sperm transferred from one or more males until its eggs are ready to be fertilized—usually by late spring when water temperatures begin to increase (Berrill and Arsenault 1984). Therefore, it is possible for a single mature female carrying viable sperm to begin a new population if she is released into a suitable habitat. Rusty crayfish females can lay between 80 and 575 eggs (Gunderson 2008). Eggs hatch in three to six weeks depending on water temperature. Juveniles stay with the female for several weeks after hatching (Berrill 1978) and reach full maturity the following year upon completion of about eight to ten molt cycles. After maturity is reached, growth slows greatly, with males typically molting twice per year and females molting once. In the spring, the male molts into a sexually inactive from (Form II) and returns to its sexually active form (Form I) in the summer (Gunderson 2008). The expected lifespan of F. rusticus is 3-4 years.

In its native range within the Ohio River valley, F. rusticus may seasonally be exposed to water temperatures ranging from close to 0°C up to 39°C; however, it prefers water temperatures between 20 and 25°C (Mundahl and Benton 1990). The maximum growth rate of juveniles is thought to occur at water temperatures between 26 and 28°C, while the maximum juvenile survival rate occurs at temperatures between 20 and 22°C. Therefore, adults will often displace juveniles into warmer habitats to favor maximum growth rate as a means of improving fecundity and competitive abilities (Mundahl and Benton 1990). At temperatures greater than 30°C, F. rusticus has been observed digging burrows in the sand beneath rocks near shore as a means of escaping the heat (Mundahl 1989).

Faxonius rusticus individuals feed as shredders, scrapers, collectors, and predators (Lorman and Magnuson 1978). This species is an opportunistic consumer of a variety of aquatic plants, benthic invertebrates, detritus (decaying plants and animals, including associated bacteria), periphyton (algae and microbes attached to objects submersed in water), fish eggs, and small fish (Lorman 1980). Juveniles tend to feed on benthic invertebrates, such as mayflies, stoneflies, midges, and side-swimmers, more often than do adults (Hanson et al. 1990, Momot 1992). Among the options of invertebrate prey for adults, snails are a primary target (Lodge and Lorman 1987).

Means of Introduction: Human activity best explains the presence of the rusty crayfish in areas outside of its native range. Angler bait bucket emptying is thought to be the primary cause of introduction and species spread (Berrill 1978, Crocker 1979, Butler and Stein 1985, Lodge et al. 1986, Hobbs et at. 1989, Lodge et al. 1994, Kerr et al. 2005; Kilian et al. 2012). The rusty crayfish is also commonly sold to schools and biological supply houses, leading to the potential for uninformed release into the wild (Gunderson 2008; Kilian et al. 2012). Intentional release into water bodies by commercial crayfish harvesters is another suspected cause of its range expansion (Wilson et al. 2004). A further mechanism of human facilitated introduction is the intentional establishment of this species in lakes as a means of removing nuisance weeds (Magnuson et al. 1975). Once introduced to a new body of water, this species can move an average of 29 meters per day (Byron and Wilson 2001) and colonize the entire littoral zone up to 12 meters depth (Wilson et al. 2004).

Status: Faxonius rusticus is established in twenty states: Colorado (Illinois Natural History Survey 2011), Connecticut (Mills et al. 1997), Iowa (Leon et al. 2016); Illinois (Michigan State University 2015); Maryland (Maryland Department of Natural Resources 2012; Kilian 2013); Maine (Hobbs 1989; sighting reports); Michigan (Michigan State University 2015); Minnesota (Passe 2014); North Carolina (Fullerton and Watson 2001; North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission 2017); eastern Nebraska (M. Wright pers. comm.); southern Nevada (sighting reports); northern New Jersey (Walker 2002); New York (Walker 2002; Dresser et al. 2016); Ohio (Peters 2010); Oregon (Sorenson et al. 2012); Pennsylvania (iMapInvasives 2016); South Dakota (South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks 2015); Vermont (Caduto 2011); Wisconsin (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 2015); and West Virginia (Jezerinac et al. 1994; Loughman 2012).

Its status is unknown in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Tennessee, as the only reported introductions are from Hobbs (1989).

Extirpated in Wyoming (Wyoming Game and Fish Department 2015).

Impact of Introduction: Faxonius rusticus can out compete and displace native crayfish and reduce resource availability (Capelli 1982; Page 1985; Taylor and Redmer 1996; Bobeldyk and Lamberti 2008). Faxonius rusticus has the potential to impact periled species, such as the endangered Queensnake (Reid and Nocera 2015). In laboratory experiments Welch (2014) found that F. rusticus increases turbidity. Dresser et al. (2016) found that native crayfish will spend more time exhibiting agnostic behaviors in the presence of F. rusticus.

Remarks: Found in streams, lakes, and ponds with varying substrates from silt to rock and plenty of debris for cover; needs permanent water, they generally do not burrow to escape dry periods. Breeding occurs in the fall and eggs laid the following spring, hatching within several weeks. The introduction of one female carrying viable sperm could start a new population. Reisinger et al. (2017) found that juveniles from the nonindigenous range have greater plasticity in behavior than juveniles from the native range, resulting in more active juveniles in the nonindigenous range. Faxonius rusticus reduces macroinvertebrate density in streams, but does not alter community composition (Kuhlmann 2016). Potential for F. rusticus to spread through estuaries as it has been shown to survive at salinities of 15ppt (Bazer et al. 2016). However, a barrier to dispersal may be water velocity, as F. rusticus does not perform well at stream velocities of 66 cm sec-1 (Perry and Jones 2018).

Faxonius rusticus underwent a reclassification in August 2017, changing the genus of non-cave dwelling Orconectes to Faxonius (Crandall and De Grave 2017).

References: (click for full references)

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Author: Durland Donahou, A., W. Conard, K. Dettloff, A. Fusaro, and R. Sturtevant

Revision Date: 4/9/2018

Citation Information:
Durland Donahou, A., W. Conard, K. Dettloff, A. Fusaro, and R. Sturtevant, 2018, Faxonius rusticus (Girard, 1852): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=214, Revision Date: 4/9/2018, Access Date: 4/19/2018

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [4/19/2018].

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