A monster followed me home… can I keep it?
July 9, 2007 5:12 AM   Subscribe

My friend found a crawdad, help us keep it alive.

Last Saturday evening, my friend was at a party and found a crawdad crawling around outside, looking lost and like a tiny monster. Recently our home town (Austin, Texas) has been getting a large amount of rain; the water tables in our area must have risen enough to evict the little guy from his moist subterranean burrow. Now I know we could just go to any of the numerous criks around here and toss the crawdad back, but that is both boring and sensible. I am asking the hive mind to let us know how we can keep him, and keep him alive. We have purchased a 3x1x1 glass tank for him and filled it with local river rocks, mud, and water pulled from a near by creek (crik). We have also purchased a tin of sinking bottom feeder food (made from shrimp), and have started to see how much of it he will eat in one go. He also does a good number on pill bugs (rolley-polleys) and crickets. His vitals are as follows:

Name: Dr. “Binky” Zoidberg the Claw-Shrimp
Length: 7 Inches from tail to noise tip
Color: Brown with green and red spots (like a crawdad)
Type: Badass Lilliputian Monster
Alignment: Neutral

The wikipedia article is of little help. The only other post tagged with crawdad is about cooking them (we do not want to do this). Using the Google results in sites for people who raise crawfish for food.

We have grown quite affectionate of him and would like to make sure his time with us is long, healthy and happy. Any tips appreciated. Advice on constructing a tiny brine shrimp metropolis for him to terrorize would be bonus points. Thanks in advance.
posted by Faux Real to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I think the name alone might kill him . . .

I had several crawfish plucked from dirty streams and was never terribly successful in promoting longevity. My one piece of good advice is to be careful of light; don't keep him too close to a light source, particularly an artificial light source, as they really don't seem to care for it.
posted by bluenausea at 5:34 AM on July 9, 2007

This page on captive care looks helpful, as do any of the first page results from Google for "Crawdad care"

Good luck with your little beastie!
posted by nelleish at 5:39 AM on July 9, 2007

Googling "pet crayfish" turns up oodles of hits; there's even a Wikipedia page.
posted by magicbus at 5:44 AM on July 9, 2007

Where I grew up folks found that crawdads really enjoyed a hot bath, a very very hot bath, with several pounds of their friends, some corn, potatoes and a sachet full of spices.

That said, as a kid I often used to find them down by the crick (though we referred to it in the vernacular, creek, back in the holler). Doing basically what you are doing, I kept crayfish alive and pinching for years on end. So long that I actually had to return them to the wild before we moved to a new town. With a big guy like you have, you may even head to a bait store and grab a few live minnows occasionally for a treat (or just dip them out of the same creek as you found him, or, more likely, her, also you could look for a few tadpoles, caddisfly larvae and other treats to munch).

A couple of tips, as the water, rocks, etc. is likely to have come with lots of microbes that will get super happy now that they've found a stagnant pool, be sure that the water is well filtered and airated to make sure you don't have a sudden algae bloom and fish kill. In my experience though, the crawdaddies were the only thing to survive this, so I wouldn't lie awake at night worrying about it. Also place your tank away from direct sunlight, as firstly your friend will not like it so much being a bottom feeding hidey-hole seeking type himself, but also because sunlight will just speed the whole algae bloom process. Last, keep an eye out for mosquito larvae that you may have scooped up inadvertantly.

posted by Pollomacho at 5:47 AM on July 9, 2007

I think the main thing would to be sure he's getting enough oxygen, by getting an aquarium pump. and also changing the water out ~ weekly. I'd look up basic aquarium maintanence, if you've never had one (an aquarium that is) before.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 5:49 AM on July 9, 2007

Wow, I caught a ~8" crawfish at Gus Fruh in Austin yesterday.
Being a moron, I just used him to wave at passing tubers (tube-ers, not 'taters).

I once caught one at Eastside Park and put him in the fish tank at the co-op I lived in. He survived quite nicely until the day he escaped and was killed by a girl who thought he was an escaped lobster.

Keep the lid on tight.
posted by Seamus at 6:29 AM on July 9, 2007

Resist the urge to give him company that might do him harm when he molts and is vulnerable.
If you do not have a filter change his water gradually, if you pull out and replace a quart twice a week that should be great and if you leave tap water sitting out in a open jar that should be fine so you do not have to drag up water from the creek.
posted by Iron Rat at 7:31 AM on July 9, 2007

Resist the urge to give him company that might do him harm when he molts and is vulnerable.

Yes, very important. I had two crayfish as pets in my dorm room and when they molted, they tore each other apart.

RIP Carnelius and Caligula.
posted by nekton at 8:04 AM on July 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Pollomacho's answer is great. You probably only want to change about 1/4 of the water every week. Changing more than that may shock the little guy, and you'll remove a host of helpful microbes.

And I'll second keeping the lid on tight - mine got out all the time and hated searching around for him.
posted by kjars at 8:53 AM on July 9, 2007

I thought I was the only one who had them as pets as a kid! Squee! Seconding the not-too-much light recommendations -- he'd probably also like some lovely hideouts where he can get away from it all (though not a tacky scary fluorescent castle). We always fed ours cheapo Woolworth's fish food and they did fine, but I bet he'll love the brine shrimp, too.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:41 AM on July 9, 2007

A crawfish entered my tanks under strange circumstances a few weeks ago. Definitely purchase a decent aquarium pump and filter - you'll want to change his water every week or few as well. Don't just leave tap water sitting out before water changes. That doesn't necessarily make it completely safe for pets, depending on the makeup of your tap water. Instead, head to a pet shop and get the people there to help you pick up the right kind of water treatment stuff for a freshwater tank.

Crawfish will eat a lot of things. Mine has been quite happy to go for little pellets of meat that I feed my turtles, or dried shrimp. Vary the diet to keep him happy. Crawfish also love to hide. Purchase some rocks, or driftwood, and pile them in the tank so that he's got some little hideyholes. [Get this stuff from the store, so you don't end up with a tankful of algae - .] Mine gets along pretty well with the turtles and fish he shares his tank with; you might consider getting some freshwater fish for your tank as well.
posted by ubersturm at 1:38 PM on July 9, 2007

crawfish eat rotten nasty stuff. Old bologna, bits of worm, bits of other dead stuff...etc.

Give him a place to hide and cooler, moving water and he'll be happy for a long long time.

For the record...large mouth bass make hella cooler wild pets... ;) Catch one and watch it eat this one.
posted by TomMelee at 2:12 PM on July 9, 2007

Also, can I say how cool it is that -two- people in this thread use the word crick? I was made fun of all the time as a kid for using it, since I picked it up from my parents rather than other kids.
posted by Loto at 2:24 PM on July 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

There's a place by where I work, literally, that the roads are numbered "hollows". Like "number 8 hollow". That's what the green highway sign says.

A few miles down the road, they literally say "holler." As in
"Beauford Holler".

True story. Real, official, department of highways signs.
posted by TomMelee at 6:10 PM on July 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

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