Burrowing is a common trait among crayfish thought to help species deal with adverse environmental challenges. Here we used in-vivo experimental data and in-silico modelling of oxygen saturation in a virtual burrow inhabited by crayfish. Except for the entrance 200 mm region, the burrow microenvironment becomes anoxic, on average, within 8 hours, and 12-hour day-night multiple cycles were not sufficient for refreshing the burrow microenvironment even with temporary lack of crayfish. We asked whether the ecological category of crayfish burrowing activity is reflected in the physiological ability to cope with hypoxia and anoxia. As dissolved oxygen declined, respiration patterns of primary burrowers differed from those of secondary and tertiary burrowers, showing also the highest variability in anoxia tolerance. Secondary burrowers showed consistent tolerance with all species exhibiting a mean survival of > 3h anoxic conditions. Tertiary burrowers were variable, exhibiting moderate to zero tolerance of anoxia. The adaptive mechanisms to cope with hypoxia might be a basal legacy from the crayfish monophyletic ancestors – lobsters, traveller crustaceans often reaching deep depths in the ocean. These results challenge the current understanding of crayfish ecology, opening an evolutionary ecological perspective which might be relevant for the next generation of phylogenetical approaches.