Crawfish vs Crayfish

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: August 26, 2021
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No matter where you live, you’ve probably heard people talk about crawfish, crayfish, and crawdads. It’s common to wonder what the difference is between crawfish vs crayfish. Believe it or not, there is no difference at all. Crawfish and crayfish are actually the same. They have so many different names because of regional differences in vernacular, but people are talking about the same creature no matter which name they go by.

Keep reading to find out why these creatures have so many different names. We’ll also talk about where to find them, what they look like, and how they taste.

Crawfish vs Crayfish: Which is Correct?

Before we dive into naming conventions, let’s talk about what these creatures are. Crawfish are small, freshwater crustaceans. They look like small lobsters but are only found in freshwater rivers and streams. These little crustaceans have so many names that it’s no wonder people think they are referring to more than one animal.

Depending on where you live, you might hear these creatures called:

  • Crayfish
  • Crawdads
  • Crawdaddies
  • Mountain lobster
  • Rock lobster

What you call these animals essentially just comes down to where in the world you grew up. In North America, Northerners usually call them “crayfish.” People from the West Coast and parts of the Midwest call them “crawdads,” and Southerners typically call them “crawfish.”

The other names for them tend to be used in specific regions, usually as a kind of slang. It gets even more confusing if you travel the world, however. In Australia, they’re called “yabbies” or “kouras,” and in Singapore, they’re called freshwater lobsters.

If you want to get technical, “crayfish” is the accepted term in standard American English. However, when you’re cooking or dining, “crawfish” is the more widely used term.

Where Can I Find Crayfish?

Crayfish can be found just about anywhere that has shallow, slow-moving freshwater. This includes lakes, streams, ponds, swamps, and rivers. There are more than 400 species, and 250 of them live in North America. This means that these little creatures are pretty easy to find no matter where you live.

What Does a Crayfish Look Like?

Crayfish are crustaceans that resemble miniature lobsters. They have a pronounced pair of strong pinching claws, a tough carapace, and a broad, flat tail. Most crayfish are deep blue or red in color, but certain species can look greenish-black or brown as well.

How Do Crayfish Taste?

Whether you call them crawfish, crayfish, or something else entirely, these little crustaceans are considered a delicacy just about anywhere in the world. They feature in a variety of seafood dishes, and in places like Louisiana and the Deep South, they’re an essential part of authentic seafood gumbo and other regional cuisines.

Crawfish have a distinct, meaty taste that differs from lobster’s more delicate flavor. The meat is usually described as sweet, and they give off a strong aroma when cooked.

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About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the difference between a crawfish vs. crayfish?

There is no difference other than naming conventions. Crawfish, crayfish, and crawdad all refer to the same small, freshwater crustacean. Different names are more common in particular regions, especially in North America, but they all mean the same thing.

Why is a crayfish called crawfish?

The term “crayfish” comes from a French word, ecrevisse. “Crawfish” is an informal derivation of the original word that French Cajuns most often use.

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