Alligators and Crocodiles Difference

The only living creatures that resemble dinosaurs closely are crocodiles and alligators. Their origins date back more than 70 million years. These so-called “living fossils” have barely altered in look or behavior since then.

Crocodiles and alligators are similar in size, temperament, and appearance. It can occasionally be very challenging to distinguish between them. Both species can be found in the southern United States, where this is particularly true.

Don’t worry if a crocodilian confuses you. There are several little but important distinctions between crocodiles and alligators.

You will learn how to distinguish between crocodiles and alligators using the information in this tutorial. We also provide some entertaining trivia on the largest, fastest, and strongest creatures.

Do Alligators And Crocodiles Look Different?

Crocodiles and alligators are relatively similar at first glance, however upon closer examination, it is clear that the two have completely distinct snouts. One fast method to tell a crocodile from an alligator is to examine their jawline. Because of their overbite, alligators’ lower jaw teeth are hidden by fitting into sockets on their upper jawline.

Contrarily, according to Biology and Evolution of Crocodylians, the teeth on the bottom row of a crocodile’s jaw are located outside the mouth and fit into grooves on the upper jaw. Another important characteristic is the form of their skulls.

Crocodiles have a longer, pointed, V-shaped snout, but alligators have a wider, shorter, rounded, U-spaced snout. The mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris), which has a rounded snout like an alligator, is an exception to the norm, according to San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

The skulls of each of these reptiles are covered with small black spots termed integumentary sensory organs (ISOs). Predators can sense pressure changes in the water brought on by possible prey thanks to their sensory organs. Crocodiles have ISOs on nearly every scale on their body, according to the Journal of Experimental Biology, whereas alligators only have ISOs on their heads and the area around their mouths.

The differences between the two reptiles go well beyond superficial features. According to a 2018 study in the journal Royal Society Open Science, alligators’ forelimbs and hindlimbs are shorter than those of crocodiles in both the humerus and femur bones.

Where Do Alligators and Crocodiles Live?

Although each animal exists in other areas as well, alligators and crocodiles share a tiny area of the United States but have distinct ranges and habitats that only temporarily cross. Consider the distribution of each reptile:

The southern border of the United States, from Texas to North Carolina, and the Yangtze River in China are the only two places where the alligator may be found. The crocodile’s distribution is far larger around the world than that of the alligator, in part because they can tolerate saltwater, while the alligator cannot.

The preferred habitat of alligators is freshwater, which includes marshes, rivers, lakes, wetlands, ponds, and even brackish areas.
Since they can tolerate saltwater better, crocodiles may be found in lagoons, islands, rivers, lakes, and mangrove swamps.
Both species of reptiles are drawn to Florida because of the environment there, which combines these two ecosystems and draws them, allowing them to interact in this little part of the planet. American crocodiles can only be found in Florida in the United States.

Does Florida have alligators or crocodiles?

The quick answer is that both are present in Florida, but alligators are far more numerous than crocodiles. Alligators are found all across Florida, mostly in freshwater habitats like swamps, rivers, and lakes, however they occasionally inhabit brackish water as well. Crocodiles inhabit salt and brackish water environments and are only found at the southernmost part of Florida, where estimates place their population at less than 2,000.

This information is correct and factual to the best of the author’s knowledge but should not be used in place of formal, specific advice from a trained expert.

Alligators and Crocodiles Have Different Snouts

The snout is one of the primary distinctions between crocodiles and alligators. While the crocodile’s is longer, thinner, and more V-shaped, the alligator’s is wider and fashioned like a U.

The form of an alligator’s snout is probably different from a crocodile’s due of the latter’s preference for general food including fish, reptiles, and mammals, as well as its diet and feeding habits, which include cracking apart turtle shells.

Alligators Have Tiny Black Spots

Both alligators and crocodiles have dome-shaped pressure sensors on their skin. They can control water pressure while swimming and pick up on ripples in the water thanks to these sensors.

The dome pressure receptors of alligators appear as minute black patches close to their mouth.

All throughout a crocodile’s body, there are transparent dome pressure sensors. One of the reasons they swim more proficiently in open water than gators is because of this.

Crocodiles can osmoregulate in locations with high levels of salinity because to salt glands on their mouths. There are no salt glands on alligators.

Alligators Are Dark Green Or Black

One of the simplest ways to distinguish between crocodiles and alligators is by their color.

The majority of crocodiles are either green, grey, brown, or black in color. They typically have a mottled or speckled design that makes it easier for them to blend in with the substrate and algae.

American crocodiles often have a white to golden underside and are slate grey in color. Countershading is the term for this dark and light colour. While hunting, it enables them to meld with the water.

Depending on the hues of their surroundings, other crocodile species appear in various tones.

The greatest illustration of a typical “green crocodile,” for instance, is the saltwater crocodile. It may camouflage in with algae thanks to its dark green scales. The vivid green and brown speckles of the Nile crocodile reflect the Nile River’s bedrock.

Alligators, on the other hand, often range from dark green to black.

The American alligator is a glossy dark green that, under some lighting conditions, may appear practically black. Compared to a crocodile, it has a significantly deeper hue.

Their hues will fluctuate depending on their habitat, just like crocodiles.

Crocodiles typically inhabit open water environments with higher levels of algae. They typically arrive in greener tones to match as a result. Alligators frequently hang around at the edges of lakes and rivers. Their hues are intended to mix in with the substrate and the muck.

Crocs Have A More Powerful Bite!

Because they are made for ripping, crocodile teeth are pointed and sharp. Crocs have an extraordinary biting strength of roughly 3700 psi.

The alligator’s mouth is designed to smash prey rather than shred it. They have cone-shaped teeth rather than pointed teeth because of this. Their bite has a 2500 psi biting force.

They Have Different Teeth

When their jaws are closed, alligators and crocodiles may easily be distinguished because the alligator will always have its lower fourth tooth exposed whereas the crocodile will never have any of its bottom teeth visible.

Alligators may conceal all of their teeth when their mouth is closed because their top jaw is broader than their lower jaw, unlike crocodiles, which sometimes have numerous visible teeth protruding out over their lips and giving them a highly jagged “smile.”

Crocodiles Are Bigger Than Alligators

Alligators are typically smaller than crocodiles. The biggest crocodile, measuring up to 23 feet long, is the saltwater kind.

The American crocodile may grow up to 20 feet long, but it typically measures between 15 and 17 feet. It weights between 800 and slightly more than 1000 pounds.

Crocodiles are larger than American alligators.

Male alligators may weigh up to 1000 pounds and grow to an average length of 12 to 13 feet. Females are 8 to 10 feet tall and weigh between 500 and 700 pounds.

An American crocodile is typically 4 to 6 feet longer than an alligator. However, while seeing an animal from a distance, it might be challenging to judge its size by eye. Because of this, identifying a species by size is one of the most difficult tasks.

Alligator vs. Crocodile: How Do They Hunt?

The hardest animals on the planet are alligators and crocodiles, which are big mammals and apex predators. They both thrive in aquatic environments, frequently residing around beaches and spending a lot of time in the water, which is an intriguing resemblance between the two.

Because of the nictitating membrane that shields their eyes underwater, alligators have poor underwater vision, but they are extremely sensitive to vibrations, making them great hunters. On land, their vision is excellent, particularly at night. They are also extremely accurate vibration detectors.

In addition to having excellent night vision and the same third eyelid as alligators, crocodiles have extremely strong senses. Crocodiles can discover prey and perceive their surroundings even at night thanks to their domed pressure sensors, which are organs that enable them detect changes in pressure. Crocodiles obviously possess the means to hunt down and kill their prey.

The parallels between each reptile’s hunting and prey-killing techniques are intriguing but not entirely unexpected.

Which Runs and Swims Faster: An Alligator or a Crocodile?

Both have a fast land speed, but only over short distances. Although they can both “gallop” and “sprint,” they only do so when they are in danger and only briefly. An alligator’s top speed might be around 11 mph, whereas a crocodile could reach speeds of approximately 9 mph (14 kph) (18 kph).

In the water, where they can utilize their long, muscular tails to drive their bodies forward, they are both far more swift and nimble. While alligators can swim at a top speed of 20 mph, crocodiles can attain speeds of up to 9 mph (15 kph) (32 kph).

Crocodiles Preying Habits

On land or in the water, crocodiles are not quite as quick as alligators, but their size is unbeatable. They are by nature ambush predators, employing their extraordinary senses to locate adversaries before utilizing their strong jaws and fangs to turn them into a meal.

Crocodiles, like alligators, usually wait in the water for prey to approach and drink or cool down before striking. They will approach and ambush their prey, frequently pulling them into the water to drown them, devouring them whole, beating them, or inflicting severe trauma on them until they pass out.

Because of their size, crocodiles can take down enormous prey like wildebeests and even sharks. Their extremely acidic stomachs make it easier for them to digest bones, hooves, and other hunting leftovers.

Crocodiles are scavengers as well and won’t hesitate to steal a kill. Few animals are willing to compete with crocodiles for food.

Both of these species are excellent killers thanks to a variety of evolutionary features and comparable hunting habits.

Which Is More Aggressive: An Alligator or a Crocodile?

Even though they are undoubtedly dangerous, alligators are less aggressive than crocodiles. If people approach an alligator, they normally try to flee by moving toward the nearest body of water.

Wild alligators won’t ever attack people unless they are startled, provoked, or protecting their young.

Alligators are inherently wary of people, but with regular interaction, they may shed some of that wariness. Feeding them is almost never a good idea, unless under carefully controlled circumstances, since they will lose part of their fear and start to view people as a source of food. Pet pets and young toddlers can also be taken for prey by them.

On the other hand, crocodiles are significantly more aggressive and much more prone to attack people, even without being provoked.

The Nile and Australian saltwater crocodiles are usually regarded as the two most deadly species in the world. On the other hand, American crocodiles are among the more cautious species you may encounter and hardly ever attack people. Although assaults by either animal are extremely rare, alligators are more likely than crocodiles to attack you in the US.

Alligator vs. Crocodile: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Despite the low likelihood of their meeting owing to population and geographic disparities, a fight between these two heavyweights might take place in southern Florida. That raises the issue of who would prevail in a fight between an alligator and a crocodile. We can examine what occurs when two apex predators battle by comparing pertinent data.

The crocodile would prevail in a battle if the largest members of each species were pitted against each other. Alligators are quicker on land and in the water, but crocodiles have an advantage over them because to their size, strength of bite, and general aggression.

The crocodile’s strong senses and longer lifetime would very definitely provide it the strength it needs to defeat an alligator, even if the two animals were of same size. Fair bouts do not occur frequently in the wild, though.

Which are more dangerous to humans?

The Nile crocodile is the one that people should be most terrified of, claims CrocBITE, a database that tracks crocodilian assaults throughout the world. Since 2000, American alligators and crocodiles have been responsible for 33 human fatalities, compared to 268 from Nile crocodiles alone.