What’s Difference Between Alligators and Crocodiles?

Difference Between Alligators and Crocodiles
Image credit: Encyclopedia Britannica

The difference between alligators and crocodiles is significant even though both alligators and crocodiles are members of the same reptilian order called Crocodylia. However, their families, Alligatoridae and Crocodylidae, are distinct.

Crocodiles and alligators are excellent hunters who devour almost anything they can get their teeth on, including fish, turtles, monkeys, and buffalo.

With spearing teeth, neither family bothers to chew their food; instead, they swallow huge chunks or the entire animal whole.

Most people are unaware of the difference between alligators and crocodiles and often use both phrases interchangeably to describe any huge water-dwelling lizard with large teeth.

Despite certain similarities, the two reptiles do not appear or behave similarly. Aside from their striking resemblance, the essential difference between alligators and crocodiles is contained in this fascinating list.

Ways to Distinguish Between Alligators and Crocodiles

  • Behavior: In terms of violence, an alligator may appear gentler than a crocodile.
  • Speed: Crocodiles are often slower than alligators on land and in water.
  • Color: Crocodiles are often paler than alligators.
  • Teeth: Crocodiles can’t conceal their teeth; however, alligators can hide their teeth.
  • The Snout Shape: The crocodile’s nose is V-shaped and pointy, but the alligator’s nose is broad and U-shaped.
  • Location: Alligator exclusively resides in portions of the United States and China, but crocodiles thrive worldwide.
  • Size: A fully developed crocodile will almost certainly be several feet longer than an adult alligator.
  • Habitat: Crocodiles like more saline or salty water. Alligators prefer freshwater habitats.

Difference Between Alligators and Crocodiles

It is relatively simple to tell them apart if you see The difference between these two large reptile. Let us explore each of these characteristics in greater depth below.

1. Behavior

Alligators are dangerous but not as fearsome as crocodiles. When contacted by humans, an alligator will normally try to flee to the nearest body of water.

2. Speed

Both can move swiftly, but only for short distances on land. They can “gallop” or “sprint,” but only when attacked for a short time. A crocodile can reach nearly 9 mph (14kph), while an alligator can reach around 11 mph (18 kph).

Whereas in water, they are far more agile and swift because they can propel their bodies forward with their long, muscular tails. Crocodiles can swim at speeds of up to 9 mph (15 kph), while alligators can achieve speeds of up to 20 mph (32 kph).

3. Color

Crocodile skin is often a light tan or olive tint, whereas alligator hides are a dark blackish grey. (The quality of water in which the alligator swims determines the color of its skin. The tannic acid from overhanging trees darkens them, whereas algae make them greener).

4. Teeth

When their jaws are closed, the snouts of these two animals are easily distinguished because the alligator’s bottom teeth are never visible; meanwhile, the crocodile’s lower fourth tooth is always visible.

Crocodiles frequently have multiple visible teeth protruding from their lips, giving them a highly jagged “smile,” but because an alligator’s upper jaw is broader than its lower jaw, it can hide all of its teeth when its mouth is closed.

5. The snout’s shape

The snout is one of the most noticeable difference between alligators and crocodiles. The alligator is larger and more U-shaped, but the crocodiles are more extended, narrower, and more V-shaped.

The alligator’s nose is likely distinct due to their diet and eating habits, namely breaking apart turtle shells. Still, the crocodile’s snout is better adapted to hunting general prey such as fish, reptiles, and mammals.

6. Location

Crocodiles are in Africa, Australia, Southeast Asia, North America, South America, and Central America, whereas alligators thrive in the southeastern United States and eastern China.

In the United States, you are significantly more likely to come across an alligator than a crocodile. Although there is an American crocodile species, it only resides at Florida’s southern point, whereas alligators are across Florida and Louisiana, as well as sections of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

In the United States, alligators vastly outnumber crocodiles. There are more than three million alligators but only about 2,000 crocodiles. Southern Florida is the only location on the planet where crocodiles and alligators coexist.

7. Size

Another striking difference between these two animals is the size and body proportion.

An adult crocodile can grow to be around 19 feet long, while alligators can grow to be about 14 feet long; hence crocodiles are normally larger.

8. Habitat

Crocodiles’ tongues contain unique glands that remove excess salt from their bodies; this means they can spend days, if not weeks, at sea.

Alligators also possess these glands, but they don’t operate as well. Hence they prefer freshwater areas, but they stay in brackish water sometimes. (a mixture of saltwater and freshwater).

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