Yabby

Scientific Name

Cheerax destructor

Other Common Names

None.  The name "yabby" is sometimes used to refer to any freshwater crayfish species in Australia.

Size

To 70 mm carapace length, 160 mm total body length

Photo of yabby

Conservation Status

Common/Widespread

Habitat

Capable of living in virtually any body of fresh water including rivers and other streams, lakes, dams and even some temporary waters.  Yabbies are active burrowers and are very hardy, able to withstand poor water quality and long periods of drought.

If a particular water course dries up, yabbies burrow deep into the bottom until they reach moist soil, where they presumably become very quiet. The scientific name destructor refers to the yabby's habit of burrowing into levee banks and dam walls where they can cause considerable damage.

Distribution

Occurs in much of South Western Queensland, central and western New South Wales, the majority of Victoria and the eastern part of South Australia.

Diet

Detritus feeder and opportunistic carnivore especially of carrion.

Angling

A very common childhood pastime is to catch yabbies with a piece of meat tied to a length of string.  Adults generally use nets of various designs, depending upon location and regulation in the particular area.

Restrictions on methods of gathering yabbies, especially the prohibition of "opera house" nets and other enclosed nets for the capture of yabbies and other freshwater crayfish in rivers and streams relate more to the protection of other wildlife, such as platypus and water rats, than to any attempt to restrict the take of yabbies.

In farm dams, yabbies are usually gathered using drag nets, and this can very quickly harvest a large number.

Yabbies themselves, in the smaller sizes, make excellent bait for the larger native fish, being an important part of the diet of many species.

On the table

Yabbies are excellent eating.  They can be simply boiled for a few minutes in salted water or prepared in a variety of ways.  They have a very sweet meat and the claws of larger specimens are particularly succulent.  Compared to spiny freshwater crayfish, yabbies have much more meat for the size of the animal, although yabbies are much smaller than crays.  A feed of yabbies is one of the most delicious meals you can try.

Native Fish Australia
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