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Crayfish in the Classroom

Crayfish are not native to Arizona. Because of their voracious eating habits and lack of significant predators, crayfish have destroyed many of the valuable water resources within the state. The picture to the right shows a captive crayfish getting ready to eat a garter snake while the pictures below show the effect that a crayfish can have on a stream. Notice the lack of aquatic vegetation and the muddy waters that occur after these animals were introduced.

As a result, it is illegal to import and transport live crayfish within most of Arizona. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for teachers to use in their classrooms. The Arizona Game and Fish Department is working with districts on a pilot program that may solve this problem.

If you are the science coordinator for a school district and wish to acquire crayfish for your classrooms, you will need to do the following:

  1. Complete a Responsible Use Plan detailing how the crayfish will be monitored and use within the district. Your facility should:
    - be a secured, lockable room with controlled access
    - be climate-controlled with adequate ventilation
    - have a water faucet and sink
    - have electrical outlets
    - have adequate overhead lighting
    - have waste disposal containers for proper disposal of dead animals or spoiled food
    - have storage areas for animal food
    - have animal holding containers/aquaria that prevent escape and have suitable shelter and water quality
    - have cleaning materials for proper sanitation
  2. Contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Native Fish and Invertebrates Program Manager on your interest in participating in this program.
  3. Submit a Wildlife Holding License Application.
  4. Download a copy of The Trouble with Crayfish lesson and distribute to teachers who will be using live crayfish in their classroom.

DISTRICT SCIENCE COORDINATORS : Download and complete these important documents if you wish to get crayfish in your district

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