Red swamp crayfish

Red swamp crayfish are an aquatic species of cambarid freshwater crayfish, native to northern Mexico and south eastern United States. Red swamp crayfish are prohibited aquatic animals under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Procambarus clarkii


  • 5–12cm long.
  • Weigh up to 50g.
  • Usually dark red in the wild, and light red in aquaria.
  • Claws and head are elongated.
  • Small spines may be present on the sides of the carapace below the head.
  • Rows of brightly coloured red bumps on the front and side of the first leg are characteristic to the species.


  • Found in warm freshwater rivers and creeks.


  • Native to northern Mexico and south eastern United States; have established in other countries as an invasive species.
  • Have been seized from aquariums in Queensland.
  • No confirmed spread to native waterways in Australia.

Life cycle


  • Grow quickly, reaching maximum age around 5 years.
  • Reproduce sexually, but new evidence suggests they may also reproduce by parthenogenesis.


  • Snails, fish, amphibians and plants.


  • Will outcompete native crayfish species if introduced into Australian freshwater ecosystems.
  • Carrier of the destructive crayfish plague disease (Aphanomyces astaci—also prohibited under the Biosecurity Act 2014).
  • Carrier of the crayfish virus vibriosis, and various species of worms that are parasitic on vertebrates.
  • Burrowing can damage watercourses and crops.


If you are aware of anyone keeping red swamp crayfish, or see any in the wild, report it immediately using our online reporting form. Take photos and keep captured specimens frozen, if possible, to help us with further identification.

Legal requirements

Red swamp crayfish are prohibited matter under the Biosecurity Act 2014. You are not permitted to import, distribute or keep them within Australia.

Further information


General enquiries 13 25 23