We all know that crawfish are delicious, and some of you may realize that there is a definite ‘season’ for crawfish cooking and eating, but do you know what the life-cycle of these crawdads are? Now that crawfish season is finally upon us, let’s look at just why these tasty little critters are not always available when we want them. Perhaps you have been wondering about these little crustaceans, curious about how many varieties there are, how long they live or how long it takes them to become adult crawfish. Read on to discover some fascinating facts about crawfish.
First of all, the male and female crawfish mate, and then the female will lay hundreds of eggs, holding them under her long swimmerets. They hatch in a few weeks and the baby crawfish has all the same features of an adult, just in a smaller scale. A week or so after hatching, the babies will leave their mother’s protection, and this is when a lot of them are eaten by larger predators because they are so small. The ones who manage to avoid such a fate grow bigger, shedding their exoskeleton frequently, and this process is known as molting. They molt twice while with their mother, then another 9 times. After they reach sexual maturity, the molting process stops.
It takes 3 or 4 months for a crayfish to reach full size, and they will live for up to 8 years, although 2 to 4 years is more common. The crayfish can mate and begin the process over, or else it will die. A male crawfish is darker in color than the female and the males grow hooks at the end of their 3rd and 4th legs. The males are aggressive, using the hooks as a weapon, during hunting and defense. Males actually lose limbs in combat with one another, although if the crawfish survives the fight the lost limbs will grow back.
This decapod (10-legged) crustacean, lives in fresh water like lakes, rivers and streams, rarely venturing on to dry land. Measuring between 2 and 6 inches, they resemble little lobsters, and there are over 150 species of them in North America, and 540 species in the world. The following infographic will give you an insight into the life of a crawfish, how they are grown at crawfish farms, and how they end up in your cooking pot, or on your dinner table.
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