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And Now, Even Our Crayfish are Drunk!

A few weeks ago I stumbled across this headline:  “Sociable crayfish get drunk more easily than loners”.  OK. . . .

WAIT, WHOA, Say what?????

Drunk crayfish?

No, seriously, you can read all about it HERE.

Apparently, some very pointy-headed scientists have been studying the nervous systems of crayfish and how they react to various stimuli.  Some of those reactions vary depending on the social status of the crayfish, friendly or curmudgeon.  You can read the article if you really care about the details, but I wonder how you distinguish a friendly crayfish from an anti-social one?  I am betting they look something like this:


What disturbs me is that some sick scientists are getting crayfish drunk!  From what I could gather from the article, that is done by keeping crayfish in tanks in which there are dilute solutions of alcohol.

OK, I know EXACTLY how that happened–one Friday afternoon after completing the week’s lab work, a little TGIF party broke out and Gary the klutzy crayfish biologist “accidentally” dumped his beer in the crayfish aquarium.  Whoops.  But, then the crayfish started walking funny, then started flipping around the aquarium, and eventually passed out on their backs.  Well, it may have been an accident, but it was hilarious, and gave some pointy-head an idea for some entertaining future “research”.

By the way, there have been many scientific breakthroughs that were the result of serendipity.  Drunk crayfish may just lead to the next.

Imagine working in that lab. . . . “Hey babe, what did you do at work today?”

“Got some crayfish drunk.”

And I thought ichthyoproctology was obscure?

Now you know that from time to time I like to take some sciencey “stuff” and relate it to the real world–the world where we are on the water trying to catch fish.  What could we possibly learn from inebriated crayfish?  Well, if you wasted ten minutes of your life and carefully read the article I linked to, you noticed that drunk crayfish flip around the aquarium.  If you know crayfish, you know that behavior–they flip their tails propelling themselves backward.  Crayfish do that to escape predators and when they do it often triggers a strike from said predator.  Imitate that behavior with a fishing lure or bait and you likely will get bit!

So, when using live crayfish as bait, the last thing you want is a bunch of lucid crayfish just crawling around on the bottom.  You want inebriated crawdads flipping all over!

May I propose that the next time you invest in a bucket of live crayfish for bait, that you get them drunk?  Many baitshops double as liquor stores, so why not pick up several dozen little bottles of Crayporter to pass out to your couple dozen crayfish?  You will find that they can hold the bottles very easily, and you do not need bottle openers, they all have claws.

Have a great weekend every one.  Take your dad fishing, get some crayfish drunk!

“Don’t need no stinkin’ friends, just give me my beer!”  Photo of a northern crayfish taken from The Crayfish of Nebraska by Steven C. Schainost.

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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