How Do Crayfish Protect Themselves?

How Do Crayfish Protect Themselves

Have you ever wondered how crayfish protect themselves under deep water surrounded by their enemies? Not only claws but also other organs of crayfish are useful to protect themselves from predators.  Crayfish have outstanding physical adaptation and their methods to survive from all the odds.

In this article, we shall discuss their adaptations for survival, defense mechanism, and other tactics. Without further ado, let’s see how crayfish protect themselves.

Physical Adaptations Of Crayfish To Protect Themselves

You’ll be amazed knowing how beautifully crayfish’s physical structures help protect themselves. From their exoskeleton to sensory antennae, everything comes to their favor. Let’s check them out –

1. Hard Shell Or Exoskeleton

Just like other crustaceans, nature gives crayfish exoskeleton as a strong shield. This shield of the hard shell provides the soft body of crayfish a sense of protection. Crayfish tend to hide from their predators to protect themselves until they grow exoskeleton.

The exoskeleton of a crayfish works as a barrier. It helps protect themselves by preventing insects and micro-organisms from desiccation to the interior of the crayfish. Again, this prevents water from logging into crayfish.

Further, the exoskeleton gives muscle flexibility to crayfish when there occurs any attack. In this way, this sturdy coating gives support to crayfish, and so they can protect themselves with this.

2. Blending Color

We’ve found some marvelous information about crayfish’s color blending with surroundings. You may see black crayfish where the soil is muddy. Again, you may see blue crayfish where the bottom has blue clay.

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So, we can say that they choose the color according to their habitats. Crayfish change color in their every molt. In this way, changing colors protect crayfish from their predators.

The color-changing continues in every molts until they grow exoskeleton. In this way, crayfish protect themselves by blending color changes until they grow fully.

3. Pincers Or Chelipeds

Pincers or chelipeds are the same things – the two front legs of crayfish. You can also call it crayfish’s claw. The pinchers lead an amazing role of protection by grabbing and holding prey or attackers.

When crayfish sense dangers, they communicate with other crayfish raising high their pincers. Also, crayfish hide or burrow with their pinchers to protect themselves. Again, crayfish can catch, defend and cut their predators into pieces.

An interesting thing is that crayfish can grow their chelipeds back if they lose them ever. Aren’t these chelipeds amazingly helps crayfish protect themselves?

4. Adaptive Eyes And Antennae

A unique matter about crayfish’s eyes is that these are compound eyes.

Thus, they can rotate or move their eyes as their wish. The bottom of any fish habitat creates a confusing place for both prey and predators. It’s hard for any fish to protect themselves there.

But crayfish have adapted their eyes to rotate or move smoothly to see all directions. Also, crayfish can be active in the dim light that helps protect themselves and remain alert from predators.

Further, crayfish have two pairs of sensory antennae that help them to have a sense about the surrounding. These antennae can detect the movement of water and also chemical signals. By this, crayfish remain safe and sound.

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5. Gills

If you wonder how crayfish breathe under deep water, all credit goes to gills. Gills protect crayfish helping them survive in water. Otherwise, crayfish can’t breathe oxygen without gills.

How Do Crayfish Protect Themselves

Molting Of Crayfish

Molting is a very significant process for crayfish. This makes them grown up and strong enough to protect themselves.

Firstly, crayfish can change their color according to their surrounding while molting. Secondly, their exoskeleton grows gradually in this process. Also, crayfish’s lost limbs like legs or claws regrow in the molt cycle.

In this way, the molt cycle or molting helps crayfish protect themselves.

Chemical Signals

Another vital crayfish behavior that helps protect themselves is transmitting chemical signals. Chemical signals of crayfish provide information on locating predators.

They can also detect aggressive behavior by such signals. Crayfish must detect chemical signals to protect themselves.


It seems mysterious that female crayfish do not fertilize their eggs immediately.  Rather, crayfish have accommodated a unique way of reserving male gametes or sperms. To protect their eggs and babies, their reproduction process is different from other fish.

 They wait for the spring to lay eggs ensuring a greater chance of survival of the babies in warm weather. Also, crayfish keep their babies with them the entire summer until they become big enough to protect themselves.  Thus, crayfish protect their babies as well as generation.

You may become shocked knowing that crayfish can be cannibalistic. Hence, when you breed crayfish in your tank, remove the female pet crayfish after 3-4 days. In this way, baby crayfish can protect themselves without getting hurt.

Hiding Themselves

Usually, crayfish hide after their molting phase to save their soft body from pollutions and enemies. They remain easy prey to the predators until their exoskeleton forms fully.  It becomes hard for them to protect themselves unless they hide.

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Also, the crayfish feel safe to hide in their reproduction phase. To protect themselves and their babies, they love to hide in a safe place. That’s why they usually hide to avoid dangers.

In the case of pet crayfish, you should place hideouts in a crayfish tank or aquarium. They need this while their exoskeleton is developing or they’re hatching.

Potential Aggression Of Crayfish

Nature has gifted crayfish with claws and potential aggression to protect themselves. Don’t assume that crayfish only love to hide; they can also be aggressive when they feel threatened. They can use their claws and aggression to protect themselves while any predators are attacking upon them.

Mainly, other crayfish and fishes are their threat. It’s seen that crayfish can get into a fight for the sake of survival. While fighting, the potential aggression of crayfish protects themselves.

Again, keeping multiple crayfish together in a tank won’t be a good idea. As we’ve mentioned before, crayfish are quite aggressive. So, they may fight each other for food or other things. To protect crayfish from their own, don’t put them together in a small tank.

Flipping And Swimming

We can say that crayfish are kind of lazy by seeing their slow movements. But, they can escape quickly to protect themselves from any place just by flipping their tail.

 Again, the crayfish can swim backward to protect themselves when they sense any predators. Their muscle, tails become quick responsive. So, they can flip tail constantly so that they can swim fast.

By all of these above-mentioned ways, crayfish can protect themselves smartly.

Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


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