This exoskeleton provides protection and allows movement, but limits growth. As a result, the crayfish regularly gets too big for its skeleton, sheds it, and grows a new larger one. This is called molting and it can happen six to ten times during the first year of rapid growth. For a few days following each molt, crayfish have soft exoskeletons and are more vulnerable to predators. Crayfish often conceal themselves under rocks or logs. They are nocturnal animals and they feed largely on snails, algae, insect larvae, worms, and tadpoles. Adult Crayfish are active from dusk to dawn, and young crayfish are active from dawn to dusk. Their movement is always a slow walk, but crayfish also use rapid flips of their tail to swim backwards and escape danger. Most crayfish have short life span that is less than two years. Crayfish have high-volume reproduction with a short gestation period, is important for the species to survive. The Crayfish mating season is from October to November, however the egg doesn't become fertilized until the spring. The predators of the Crayfish include alligators, burbots, chicken turtle, painted turtle, otters, and …show more content…
The abdomen is located behind the cephalothorax and consists of six clearly divided segments. The cephalothorax consists of 13 segments. Each segment of both the cephalothorax and the abdomen contains a pair of appendages.
The head (or cephalic) region has five pairs of appendages. The antennules are organs of balance, touch, and taste. Long antennae are organs for touch, taste, and smell. The mandibles, or jaws, crush food by moving from side to side. Two pairs of maxillae hold solid food, tear it, and pass it to the mouth.
The second pair of maxillae also helps to draw water over the gills. Of the eight pairs of appendages on the cephalothorax, the first three are maxillipeds, which hold food during eating. The chelipeds are the large claws that the crayfish uses for defense and to capture prey. Each of the four remaining segments contains a pair of walking legs. In the abdomen, the first five segments each have a pair of swimmerets, which create water currents and function in reproduction. The sixth segment contains a modified pair of uropods. In the middle of the uropods is a structure called the telson, which bears the anus. The uropod and telson together make up the tail fan. The crayfish moves backward by forcing water forward with its tail