A most remarkable beast follows; something one certainly doesn’t see everyday. For most – maybe all! readers, I bet this would be a “life crustacean”.
Many thanks to Mark Dilley for not only finding these critters, but letting me share his stunning photographs.
I’ll bet you’ve seen these in your wanderings. Small chimney-like structures of mud, surrounding the entrance to a subterranean cavity. They are the work of crayfish, and there are a number of species that create these dwellings. Crayfish burrows typically are found in more less permanently muddy areas; oft-flooded fields and meadows, wetland margins, springy areas, floodplains and the like. The inhabitants spend the day in the cool, moist confines of the den, emerging at night to lurk at or near the entrance, grabbing any small animal unlucky enough to happen by.
Studying nocturnal, subterranean crayfish is not easy. One of the methods employed by researchers is the use of a strong pump. Running a tube down into the burrow, they utilize suction to vacuum out the contents and see who is home. This can be done without harming the inhabitants, and has revealed all kinds of interesting information about crayfish and the other critters that share the burrows.