What is the Difference Between Alligator and a Crocodile ? – The name alligator and crocodile might sound interchangeable, but they are not.
There are difference between alligator and a crocodile. While these two reptiles may share a lot of things in common, the appearance of both animals are different. Also, there are some other differences that might interest you, which we will cover down below!
Before we talk about the difference between both of these animals, let’s first look at their similarities. They come from the same order, which is Crocodilia. What makes them interesting is that they outlived dinosaurs! Both of these reptiles have been in this world for over 200 million years.
Both of these animals are semi-aquatic, which means they are able to live on both land as well as water. The hunting technique that is used is stealth, maximizing their keen vision. Then, they would hunt the preys down with their powerful jaws.
Currently, alligators only have two living species as of now. Crocodiles are easier to be found around the world, with over a dozen species. Below is the list of difference between alligator and a crocodile that will surely interest you!
Difference Between Alligator and a Crocodile
1. The Snout
Animals are considered to have snout when their nose and mouth is projecting together. Both alligator and crocodile possess these snouts. The snout is actually the first sign for you to tell these reptiles apart. Their snouts’ shapes are different and can easily be distinguished.
The snout of a crocodile is V-shaped and more pointed. The snout of an alligator is U-shaped and wide. So, the alligator’s snout is broader while the crocodile’s narrower.
It is important to not that these shapes can also be affected due to their own personal diet. Alligators have wider snouts because they have to break open the shells of turtles. Crocodiles hunt preys like fish, mammals and other reptiles. So, the snout shape is more pointed for easier hunting.
2. Where They Live
As crocodiles are spread around the world, it’s easier to find crocodile. Alligators, on the other hand can only be found in parts of China and the U.S. To be exact, Alligators live in the eastern China and the southeastern U.S. There are several habitats of crocodiles. Namely, Australia, Africa, Central America, South America, North America as well as Southeast Asia.
While people around the world may have better chance to encounter crocodiles, those living in the U.S. might find it easier to find alligator. This is because there are around 3 million alligators in the U.S., but only less than 2,000 crocodiles. However, there is one place where they live side by side, which is Southern Florida.
3. Better Living in the Sea
We often find both of these animals living near saltwater. Crocodiles are better than alligators in this matter though. This is because of the special glands they have in the tongues that excrete salt if there is an excessive amount of it.
This makes crocodiles able to spend weeks in the sea. Alligators are usually found in water that is a mixture of fresh and saltwater. This is because their glands don’t work as well as the ones crocodiles have. This is probably why crocodiles are spread more, even across the Caribbean islands.
4. The Toothy Grin
The teeth of crocodiles are always visible, even when their mouths are closed. When closed, the lower fourth tooth are always visible. This makes them looked like they have toothy grin.
Alligators’ teeth, on the other hand, are hidden when their mouths are closed. None of the teeth are visible and this it one of the key to tell them apart. Alligators have wide upper jaw while crocodiles don’t.
The jaw of crocodiles are the in the same size, both upper and lower. Therefore, when these jaws interlock, the teeth are exposed. The snouts are easy to tell apart when they are closed. This difference between alligator and a crocodile makes it easy for you, doesn’t it?
5. The Size
Crocodiles are bigger than alligators in terms of length. An adult crocodile may reach the length of 6 meters. Adult alligator can only reach the length of around 4 meters.
While crocodiles are bigger than alligators, they are both massive in size. With the length of 4 meters, they weigh more than 200 kilograms. Crocodiles are even more impressive as their weights can reach five times of gators’ weights! That’s a difference between alligator and a crocodile that is quite big.
6. The Color
The next difference between alligator and a crocodile is about their color. When it comes to color, alligators have darker color. The color of crocodiles are light tan or olive. Alligators have darker color, which is blackish grey.
For alligators, the shades of their skins vary. The exact shade forms depending on the water quality where they swim. This is because overhanging trees produce tannin acid may make them darker. The algae in the water may also make them greener. So, it all depends on where they swim.
7. The Speed
The speed of gators and crocodiles depend on where they are. Overall, alligators are faster than crocodiles. This is for both in water and on land.
Alligators and crocodiles can run on land, but it’s more like a sprint. They are only able to move fast for short distances. This happens when they are threatened.
The speed of a crocodile when sprinting can reach 14 kilometer per hour. The maximum speed of an alligator is about 18 kilometer per hour. They are faster in water than on the land.
This is because in water, their tails that are muscular and long help propel the bodies. The speed of crocodile in water can reach 15 kilometer per hour, and 32 kilo per hour for alligators.
They are both great swimmer with the tail helping. On top of that, they are able to hold their breath when submerged in water for up to an hour. Moreover, they also possess great night vision, making them excellent hunters at night.
8. The Aggression
We can also distinguish the difference between alligator and a crocodile by looking at their behavior. Crocodiles are more aggressive than alligators. Alligators are more tame and timid.
When encountered by human, alligators’ first choice is not to run towards them. They would head to the nearest water.
Behavior. In terms of aggression, an alligator might seem tame compared to a crocodile.
Alligators, while definitely dangerous, are relatively timid compared to crocodiles. An alligator will generally try to escape if approached by humans, usually heading for the nearest water.
The only time that wild alligators will attack humans is if they are unexpectedly disturbed, provoked, or defending their young.
Alligators are instinctively afraid of humans but can lose some of that fear with regular contact. Except in controlled conditions, feeding them is almost always a bad idea as they will lose some of their fear and see humans as a source of food. They can also mistake small children and pet dogs for prey.
Crocodiles, on the other hand, are much more bad-tempered and far more likely to attack humans, even unprovoked.
Australian saltwater crocodiles are generally considered the most dangerous in the world, followed by Nile crocodiles. American crocodiles, on the other hand, are one of the more timid types that you will find and rarely attack humans. In the US, you are more likely to be attacked by an alligator than a crocodile, although attacks by either are very rare.
From the size of both reptiles, we can already assume that crocodiles are stronger than alligators. As crocodiles are bigger than alligators, you can imagine their strength as well. This time, we are talking about the strength of their bites.
The bite pressure of crocodiles that have been measured are 3,700 pound-force per square inch. The strongest alligators that have ever recorded are 2,900 pound-force per square inch. On top of this, crocodiles are also more aggressive than alligators, so they are more likely to attack anyone even when unprovoked.
10. Level of dangerous to human
Crocodiles are more dangerous to human. Now, among all the crocodiles out there, the one that human should be careful the most is the Nile crocodile. This is proved by the database from CrocBITE, who keeps track of the attacks worldwide.
For the past 20 years, there are only 33 human fatalities that are caused by American crocodiles and alligators combined. However, Nile crocodiles alone have caused 268 human fatalities.
Crocodiles and alligators do look quite similar. They have similar features that if we look deeper into it, they are quite different! Knowing all these facts about difference between alligator and a crocodile may benefit you one day.
The most important thing to note is their aggressiveness. This is the reason why they are dangerous to human in the first place. While alligators won’t chase you down unless provoked, crocodiles do. Still, you shouldn’t approach them on purpose as well. Common sense is supposed to still be there in addition to knowing difference between alligator and a crocodile to understand that both of these reptiles are dangerous.
So, has the article above turned you into a crocodile-alligator expert? You sure know more on how to distinguish these two reptiles now! Remember their key difference between alligator and a crocodile and you can now see them apart in ease.