Alligator vs. Crocodile: How to Tell Them Apart Before Running Away

Posted by Christy Caplan
Crocodile
Bernard Gagnon/Wikimedia Commons

How much do you know about alligators and crocodiles?

Alligators thrive in the expanse of freshwater swamps in southern Florida. Saltwater crocodiles, the American alligators' cousin, are found in lesser numbers throughout marine environments of the southern U.S. But recently, freshwater Nile crocodiles have started showing up.

Yikes!

How are crocodiles different from alligators?

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The two are close relatives.

LiveScience tells us about a few major differences:

"Snout shape: Alligators have wider, U-shaped snouts, while crocodile front ends are more pointed and V-shaped.

"Toothy grin: When their snouts are shut, crocodiles look like they're flashing a toothy grin, as the fourth tooth on each side of the lower jaw sticks up over the upper lip. For alligators, the upper jaw is wider than the lower one, so when they close their mouths, all their teeth are hidden.

"Home base: Crocodiles tend to live in saltwater habitats, while alligators hang out in freshwater marshes and lakes."

Which is bigger: Alligator or Crocodile?

A full-grown crocodile will likely be several feet longer than an adult alligator. The maximum length is around 14 feet.

Who would win in a fight between an alligator and a crocodile? 

According to Owlcation, crocodiles can grow bigger than gators, and their bites can be more lethal.

"Crocodiles might win for bite strength alone. The strongest have a bite pressure that measures 3,700 pounds per square inch, while the strongest alligators' bites are about 2,900.

"In terms of size, crocodiles win again. The biggest recorded croc was about 2,000 pounds and over 23 feet long, while the largest recorded gator was about 1,000 pounds and 19 feet long."

Can a crocodile and an alligator breed?

No, they can't. Although they look similar, they are genetically very far apart and split into separate genera a long time ago.

So, alligator vs. crocodile? Which is your fave? You can really tell the difference if you look at the shape of the snout! Yet in the animal kingdom, the crocodile wins for their massive teeth and bite. You wouldn't want to go face to face with either of these animals.

As mentioned in the beginning, you can find both in the Florida everglades and Louisiana. These two different species can be mistaken for the other but the crocodile species will look very different if you're up close. Both can move quickly but only in short distances.

Fatalities from alligator attacks in the United States are actually very rare.

Saltwater crocodiles that live in Australia 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.

Another fact? Alligators also have special glands but they don't work as well, so they usually stick to freshwater habitats, although they can sometimes be found in brackish water (a mixture of salt and freshwater).

Do they have different teeth? What about a crocodile's teeth? The alligator's snout will have none of its lower teeth visible, whereas the crocodile's large fourth tooth can always be seen.

Crocodiles live between 70 and 100 years. Check out books on Amazon for stories about species of crocodilians.

Do you or anyone you know, live with exotic animals? Please comment below!

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Alligator vs. Crocodile: How to Tell Them Apart Before Running Away