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What is the difference between crocodiles and alligators?

Updated on November 28, 2016

Also called caymans and gavials, crocodiles and alligators are large amphibious reptiles belonging to the genus Crocodylus. They were once widely distributed throughout the world but are now found only in swampy areas of the tropics and sub-tropics.

The crocodile and alligator belong to the Crocodylia order, and although when they are seen together it is difficult to distinguish between them, there are certain ways of doing so.

Crocodiles fourth tooth in the lower is visible when the mouth is closed.

Crocodiles are generally more savage than alligators, and their snouts are usually narrower.

Some alligators have been known to live longer than 50 years in captivity. Crocodiles are believed to live for more than 100 years and are reputed to be livelier than alligators and more likely to attack Man. Crocodiles are farmed in Asia for their skins which are used to make bags and shoes. These crocodiles, at the crocodile farm in Singapore, are Siam crocodiles. Restricted to Thailand and Indo-China, they are characterized by a triangular raised portion in front of the eyes with the apex of the triangle facing forward.

The arrangement of the alligator's teeth is different from that of the crocodile and the alligator is less aggressive and runs away from men.

Although the crocodile grows faster and eats more than the alligator, it cannot withstand cold and thus it survives in warmer, tropical parts of the world, whereas the alligator is found in the south-eastern United States and the Yangtse River basin.

Crocodiles and alligators lay 20 to 100 eggs, which they bury in the sand, although alligators make a rough nest of leaves and other vegetation and mud. The eggs are incubated by the warmth of sunlight, but the females guard them until they are hatched, when the young are left to fend for themselves.


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