You just never know what’s lurking in that river or stream down at the bottom of your garden! Most people will never have seen a freshwater crayfish up close and personal like this.
They are a protected species in Ireland because we have a viable population - they are quite widespread still but our population is one of the last remaining populations of European crayfish. In Ireland the white clawed crayfish aka Austropotamobius pallipes is the native species.
Crayfish plague has wiped out populations in Europe – mainly due to the introduction of American crayfish species which carried the plague with them. While the American signal crayfish is relatively resistant to the fungus that causes plague the European species can be quite badly affected.
The males fight for reproductive supremecy and occasionally you will come across a large male specimen that has lost one of their big claws - nature red in tooth and claw and all that.
In any case white clawed crayfish are still widely found in hard water rivers and lakes in Ireland. They are one of the very few protected aquatic species in Ireland however. No crayfish were hurt in the making of this webpage - all returned to their normal river habitat!