Saturday, February 19, 2011
Ice Skating Crawdad
My friend Cindy and I decided to take a drive and look for things to take pictures of. While slowly driving along a narrow roadway, she looked at me and said "Don't think I'm crazy, but I'm pretty sure there is a crawdad crawling on the ice back there" I backed up the car and we got out to investigate. Sure enough there was a very large crawdad, moving very slowly along the top of the ice in a narrow frozen channel of water. We grabbed a long stick and climbed down the bank and used the stick to move the crawdad towards us. It was at this time we noticed something under her tail. At first we thought it was parasites, then we realized it was her babies. Why was this crawdad on top of the ice? Did our unseasonably warm temperatures of the past few days confuse her and wake her up? We knew she would not survive the impending cold temperatures predicted for the night. I made the decision to bring her home and try to keep her alive until spring when I can release her.
I had no idea that crawdads carried their babies in this manner, and was thrilled to learn something new. The picture, above, shows part of the "baby ball" still attached to her tail. As soon as I placed the crawdad in the water of a 5 gallon tank, the babies immediately let go and began swimming around. The female seemed relieved to be warmer and off the icy mess she had gotten herself into.
There are approximately 200 baby crawdads swimming around with their mother. My husband said he had one as a pet when he was a young boy. He named it "big daddy" and he fed it oatmeal. It lived for 2 years. I placed a few flakes of dry oatmeal in there with her, but so far she doesn't seem interested. Perhaps her metabolism is still telling her it is winter and she just doesn't have the urge to eat yet.
The babies are very tiny. This one is pictured on the top of my thumb and measures less than 3/8 of an inch. Truly mini replicas of their mother, right down to the fan tail and the buggy eyes. I am so glad Cindy noticed this crawdad on top the ice. This was a wonderful opportunity for us to witness a great moment in the life of this crawdad. I am equally glad that were able to get her off the ice and somewhere warmer before the night time temperatures caught her off guard and she succumbed to below freezing weather.