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Differentiating An Alligator And A Crocodile

Updated on September 1, 2020
Leighton Edouard Ando profile image

Leighton is a Reptile Lover Who Loves Crocodilians and Snakes He Also Adores Dinosaurs

Leighton with his Alligator Toy
Leighton with his Alligator Toy

Most people would have a hard time differentiating an alligator from a crocodile. The fact that they are close relatives would explain the many physical similarities between the two. Both are fearsome-looking reptiles in scientific order Crocodilia. They are also both cold-blooded and have thick scales that look like armor plates. They both have large, serrated teeth for catching prey and long, powerful tails which propels them through their aquatic habitats. They are both at home on land, where they rest to bask in the sun, and in the water, where they have the ability to hold their breath for an hour. Alligators and crocodiles have existed for a long time and have even survived the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs. Despite this, both reptiles have remain almost unchanged when compared to their early ancestors.

Now you think, how do you differentiate an alligator from a crocodile? The distinctive differences can be seen in the following features:

  • Shape of the snout. Alligators have wider, U-shaped snouts making it stronger. This is most probably because alligators naturally hunt hard-shelled turtles. Crocodiles have more pointed snouts, V-shaped snouts.
  • Jaw and teeth. While their snouts are shut crocodiles look like they're flashing a toothy grin, since their upper and lower jaw are the same size. In alligators, the upper jaw is wider than the lower one, so when they close their mouths, all or most of their teeth are hidden.
  • Size and weight. While both are massive reptiles, crocodiles can grow bigger and heavier than alligators.
  • Habitat. Crocodiles tend to live in saltwater habitats, as they have special glands that can filter out saltwater. Alligators hang out in freshwater marshes and lakes.
  • Location. Alligators are found only in the certain parts of the US and China. Crocodiles are more widespread and can be found in most of the continents that have a tropical climate.

Alligators and crocodiles are both majestic animals. They deserve to be protected so that we future generations can appreciate them for many years to come.


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