AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is warning Texans about an invasive crawfish from Australia.
The department said Thursday researchers at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley recently found the first known introduction of the invasive Australian Redclaw Crayfish in Texas.
An earlier 2013 sighting of a female crayfish of this species with several young was also identified on iNaturalist, indicating this species has been present at this location for some time, a press release from TPWD said. This is just the second detection of this species in the wild in the United States with the other being in California.
According to TPWD, six Redclaw Crayfish, both males and females, were found near a pond at an apartment complex in Brownsville.
TPWD warned the animals can reproduce quickly, since females can carry 1,000 eggs up to five times a year. Australian Redclaw Crayfish reach up to two pounds in under a year.
TPWD said the crayfish can also carry Crayfish Plague, as well as other parasites/diseases that could impact native crayfish.
According to TPWD, Australian Redclaw Crayfish cannot be legally purchased, sold or possessed in aquariums in the state. It’s also illegal to release these crayfish into a public body of water.
“Release of aquarium life is unfortunately a key means by which invasive species such as these crayfish are introduced,” said Monica McGarrity, TPWD senior scientist for Aquatic Invasive Species, in a press release. “Well-meaning, uninformed aquarium owners sometimes release their pets, thinking they’re doing the best thing for them, but if they do survive, they can become invasive and harm the native aquatic species and ecosystem. Aquarium owners should research alternatives to aquarium dumping and help prevent introductions of the next invasive species.”
Australian Redclaw Crayfish have large left claws with a red patch on the outer edge and four distinct ridges on the top of the head. They like to live in slow-moving streams and stagnant water bodies with high turbidity.
TPWD also said the crayfish move over moist vegetation on land and can move between waterbodies.
If you see an Australian Redclaw Crayfish, you can report it to TPWD by emailing photos and location details to firstname.lastname@example.org.