Lamington Spiny Crayfish of the Tamborine Mountain Escarpment

What? Crayfish come in blue? Well, the Lamington Spiny Crayfish sure does, and many other colours as well, depending on which fresh water stream they’re found.

The beautiful colours of the Lamington Spiny Crayfish

Lamington Spiny Crayfish Springbrook

Lamington Spiny Crayfish Springbrook

The amazing colours of the Lamington Spiny Crayfish (Euastacus sulcatus) make them one of the most beautiful animals to grace the rainforest bordering Tamborine Mountain’s National Park and The Forest.

These Crayfish vary in colour depending on where they’re found. For example, in Springbrook and Tamborine, they’re a vibrant blue or bluish green and white. While in northern NSW, they’re red and white and the western Crayfish are green and brown.

Colours may even vary between Crayfish in nearby areas (eg. Springbrook and Tamborine), where extreme localisation of the animal (due to fragmented – landlocked – distribution) has led to distinctive species development.

Where are Lamington Spiny Crayfish found?

Lamington Spiny Crayfish are found in highland habitats with altitudes of more than 300 metres. They tend to reside in rainforests (and sometimes wet sclerophyll forests) that border fresh water streams.

They’re found from Tamborine Mountain to the Lamington Plateau and then west along the Macpherson Range in both Queensland and NSW.

Within Tamborine Mountain, they’re found, among other places, along Guanaba Creek bordering The Forest and the adjoining National Park and have possibly evolved to suit the local environment.

Lamington Spiny Crayfish Tamborine Mountain Guanaba Forest

Lamington Spiny Crayfish Tamborine Mountain

Are Lamington Spiny Crayfish aggressive?

The Lamington Spiny Crayfish can get a bit defensive. If cornered, they will wave their claws and start hissing at an approaching potential threat.

While generally not dangerous, they can deliver a painful pinch if picked up and handled.

The slow breeding cycle of the Lamington Spiny Crayfish

Lamington Spiny Crayfish can reach up to 13 centimetres, making them a very large Crayfish.

They’re a very slow growing animal, with females taking up to 5 years before they reach sexual maturity.

Slow breeding means they take time to rebuild populations reduced by threats.

Species status of the Lamington Spiny Crayfish

IUCN Red List: Vulnerable.

The IUCN Red List now recognises that some 80 per cent of the Euastacus group are threatened.

Threats to the Lamington Spiny Crayfish

Severely fragmented distribution of the Lamington Spiny Crayfish (eg. found in restricted areas within Springbrook and Tamborine Mountain) leads to their dramatic localisation. This means, exposure to the following factors may lead to a decline in their numbers and, perhaps, local extinctions of very distinct populations.

The following may contribute to falling numbers of Lamington Spiny Crayfish:

1. Impacts on property in which the Crayfish are isolated, such as bush fire, habitat destruction and exploitation by collectors.
2. Management practices and activities on private property at the top of catchments that negatively impact on habitat and water quality. Issues can arise from pesticides, pathogens, pollution, soil run-off, nutrient inundation and the presence of general rubbish.
3. Introduced species, such as trout, yabbies and cane toads.
4. Climate change causing continued temperature increases and drying out of land.

More information

The Atlas of Living Australia: Euastacus sulcatus

Queensland Museum: Lamington Spiny Crayfish

IUCN Red List: Euastacus sulcatus

The Conversation: Australian endangered species: Spiny Crayfish

Like the Save Guanaba Facebook page for regular updates on at-risk species in The Forest of Tamborine Mountain.