ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Alligators and Crocodiles

Updated on August 21, 2015

Why do alligators and crocodiles look so alike..?

Crocodiles and alligators belong to the same order of reptiles, the Crocodilia. This order has only 24 living species belonging to it, although it is related to the giant lizards of Jurassic times – creatures that existed some 150 million years ago. Other species belonging to this order are the caimans, found in Central and South America, and the thin-snouted, fish-eating gavials of northern India.



How do you tell the difference between crocodiles and alligators..?

Crocodiles and alligators look so alike that it is often very difficult to tell them apart when you see them in zoos. They both have tough, scaly skins and when they are lying in water, their nostrils, eyes and ears are on the same level. The answer is to wait until they appear on dry land, and then take a good look at their teeth. If you look carefully, you will find that crocodile teeth are more or less in line with each other, except for the fourth tooth on each side of the bottom jaw which is larger than the rest. When the crocodile closes its mouth, these two teeth fit into a notch on each side of the upper jaw so that you can see them.

Alligators, on the other hand, have all their top teeth outside their bottom teeth, so that when they close their mouths, no teeth can be seen.

How do crocodiles catch their prey..?

Crocodiles live in sluggish streams and lakes, often floating without movement for hours on end, so that an unwary creature might take them for dead. It would soon learn its mistake.

When a crocodile wants to move, it can move very fast indeed. Waiting a little way out from the shore, it will bide its time until, suddenly, swimming strongly and silently with vigorous movements of its flattened tail, it will seize its prey with a snap of its powerful jaws. Then it drags it to deeper water, where it will drown it and eat it.

Not all species of the Crocodilia are meat-eaters, however. The gavials of northern India, for example have long, thin snouts which are especially adapted to a fish-eating diet.

How do crocodiles find their mates...?

Crocodiles find each other during the mating season by using their sense of hearing and their sense of smell. When the mating season arrives, the males start calling for females with loud, intermittent bellows. These belows can be heard from a considerable distance.

Crocodiles also have two sets of special scent glands that are situated on the underside of the body. When the animal is basking in the sun, the scent glands come into contact with the soil and they secrete a strong, musky odour which leaves a trail that can be followed by other members of the species.

How do crocodiles build their nests..?

Crocodiles are egg-laying reptiles, and the first thing a female must do after she has mated is build a nest. Most species scoop up mud and plants in their jaws and build a mound of rotting vegetation. Then the female makes a hollow in the centre and lays anything from 20to 70 eggs in it. Afterwards, she covers them up and leaves them, but she does not stray far away.

The eggs are kept warm by the heat of the sun and the fermenting vegetable matter. When the young are ready to hatch, they make loud, hiccough- like noises which bring the mother to her nest.

She scratches the top of the nest away and the young break out of their shells. The young use their strong egg tooth, which has developed on the tip of the snout, to chip through the shell. This special tooth is lost soon after hatching. When a young crocodile is ready to hatch, it chips away at the shell with a special tooth it has only for this occasion.

American Alligators of 5 - 6 meters (16 - 20 feet) have been recorded in the past but today an adult male of 4 meters (13 feet) is considered large.

Juvenile Alligators are black with 10 - 11 narrow yellow crossbands on the tail and 4 - 5 on the body.

As they grow larger the crossbands fade and in adults, are rarely visible on the body. The eyes are normally silverish in color. The snout is moderately long and wide, generally uniform in width, with a bony nasal bridge. Some of the characteristics that vary among individuals are the presence or absence of bony plates or buttons (osteoderms) in the thoracic or ventral scales, the shape of the snout, and the massiveness of the skull.

Alligators are like other reptiles. They have scaly skin. They lay eggs with shells, and they are cold - blooded. Alligators can grow to be twelve or fourteen feet long and weigh from just a few pounds to more than 2,000 pounds. An eight - foot alligator is unusual in the wild.

Do you wish to expand some time in Jurassic time...?

See results

Do you like Alligator or crocodile..?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Linda Robinson60 profile image

      Linda Robinson 

      5 years ago from Cicero, New York

      You are very welcome and did all of that and more, just fantastic. Thanks. Linda

    • DeadlyCreature profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from India


      I always try to serve best knowledge content with interesting facts.

      Thanks a lot for your valuable comment.

    • Linda Robinson60 profile image

      Linda Robinson 

      5 years ago from Cicero, New York

      Loved your hub written on alligators and crocodiles so well written and so much fascinating interesting information. It is nice meeting you and I look forward to reading all of your other hubs and future ones of yours. Excellent writer and keep your interest from the first word to the last. Linda


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)