Missouri is home to roughly 35 species of crayfish, and all of them qualify as our official state invertebrate. Crayfish, also called “crawfish,” “crawdads,” or “mudbugs,” are lobster-like creatures that live in or near fresh water and prairies throughout the state. A set of large pincers and tails that end in a fan shape make them easily recognizable.

The various species range in size from just under one inch (Neosho midget crayfish) to six inches (lonpincered crayfish) when measured head to tail. Seven species of crayfish are found exclusively in Missouri. Crayfish are a common food item for animals such as raccoons, herons, and fish. Anglers also use crayfish as bait when fishing.

The nomination of crayfish for the state invertebrate came from Mrs. Janna Elfrink’s elementary school class in Reeds Spring, Missouri in 2007.


Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo)

§10.125. Crayfish, official state invertebrate. – The crayfish, also called crawfish and crawdad, is selected for, and shall be known as, the official invertebrate of the state of Missouri. (L. 2007 H.B. 351)

approved 21 June 2007
effective 28 August 2007


Photo Gallery:

Click on an image below to enlarge and read a caption. This will open a new window in the Missouri State Symbols Flickr album.

symbols/RG103_CrayfishesOfMO_frontspiece_WmPflieger_1996.jpg symbols/RG103_Digital_0013.jpg symbols/RG103_IntroToCrayfish_p16_JoelVance_1987.jpg


Additional Resources:

Search historic issues of the Missouri Conservationist on the Missouri Digital Heritage website here.

Pflieger, William L. et al. The Crayfishes of Missouri. Jefferson City, MO: Missouri Department of Conservation, 1996.

Pflieger, William L., and Kathy Love. An Introduction to the Crayfish of Missouri. Jefferson City, MO: Missouri Department of Conservation, 1987.

Steele, Mary. The Crayfish of Missouri. University of Cincinnati Bulletin No. 10 (1902).


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