Officials have had enough of these foreign crustaceans abusing our weak border security.

Here’s a scene I’m sure we’re all familiar with: You’ve had a rough day because the boss was on your case, and when you get home that special person in your life hands you a cold and damp vinyl bag. You crack open your present and a waft of mud and algae hits your nose, making your eyes well up, but it’s not because of the stench. It’s because you’ve just received the wonderful gift of live crawdads.

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However, this idyllic scene of everyday life in Japan – and probably the whole world, I’m assuming – is now threatened by alien crayfish that bring with them potential viruses and dietary habits that could wreak havoc within Japan. In response, the Ministry of the Environment announced that they will be cracking down on these alien species starting November of this year, and anyone caught keeping or breeding the blacklisted lobster wannabes can face up to one year in prison or a million-yen (US$9,400) fine.

Luckily, the ministry outlined which crayfish are okay to interact with and which ones will land your butt in the slammer, so listen up! All members of the Cambaridae family are off limits except for Procambarus clarkii, also known as the “Louisiana crawfish,” or more affectionately as the “mudbug.” In other words, a Procambarus clarkii is all good, whereas a Procambarus fitzatricki should be reported to the authorities at all costs.

▼ Good crayfish…

Image: Wikipedia/I, Duloup

▼ …and bad crayfish, got it?

Image: Wikipedia/Chris Lukhaup

Meanwhile, the Cambaroides japonicus or “Japanese crayfish” is also a permitted species of crawdad, but should not be confused with the Cambaroides dauricus, under threat of strict penalties.

▼ Having good times with this guy…

Image: Wikipedia/Daiju Azuma

▼ Or facing hard time with this guy. You decide.

Image: Wikipedia/A.C. Tatarinov

I hope you were taking notes because the ministry said that they will not accept “I didn’t know” as a valid excuse. However, in order to, prevent such incidents from happening they also issued this handy way to distinguish a Louisiana crawfish from a mystery crayfish (Procambarus virginalis).

Image: Ministry of Environment

The infographic explains that the two folds of the carapace on of a mudbug touch, creating a line running back from the cephalic groove. However a mystery crayfish’s carapace has more of a gap between the folds. You can remember with this handy mnemonic I made:

If its carapace touches, then the police can’t touch us, but if the cephalic groove leads to a wide space, when the cops come knockin’ you’ll have egg on your face.

And if that doesn’t help, they’re also completely different colors.

Armed with that knowledge, you ought to be able to figure out the other 500 or so species by yourself no problem. So, let’s all practice safe crayfish gifting and raising within the terms of the law, because while a lot of this is a laughing matter, the hazardous effects invasive species can have on ecosystems and our food supply, is certainly not.

Source: Ministry of Environment, Hachima Kiko
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