Difference Between Crocodile and Alligator

Crocodile and Alligator are often assumed to be the same as both are semi-aquatic reptiles. There is a difference between them that is distinct.

Crocodile vs Alligator

The difference between a crocodile and an alligator is about their physics appearance. The snout of the crocodiles is long narrow and V-shaped while the snout f the alligator is wide and U shaped.

Crocodile vs Alligator

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonCrocodileAlligator
ColorBlackish GreyOlive Green/Brown
Length18 to 19 feet ( 5.8 meters)14-15 feet ( 4.3 meters)
SnoutV-shaped- teeth are seenU Shaped – Teeth not seen
NestingLay eggs in the mud or sandNear vegetation or clean water
Life span70 to 100 years30-50 years

What is a Crocodile?

Crocodile belongs to the Crocodilian family. They are carnivorous reptiles that are usually carnivores.

A young crocodile eats fish, frogs, insects and all kinds of invertebrates. The bigger crocodiles eat anything; birds, reptiles, mammals and everything else that they eat when they were babies.

Also, the crocodile has stronger sensory pits. They stay mainly in saline waters.

Their salt glands are located on their teeth, jaws and tongue, jaws


What is Alligator?

Alligator belongs to the Alligatoridae family. Alligators are omnivores.

The alligator feasts on the same as crocodile does. But they also can eat snakes, mollusks, small fish, turtles and preys on animals that they can gulp in one go.

They eat plants and other vegetation near freshwater. The alligator usually preys on food that they can easily gulp down and they don’t chew their food.

Alligator likes the digestive juices to do all the hard work. Alligators are reptiles just like the crocodile, but distinctly different.


Main Differences Between Crocodile and Alligator


In crocodilians, maternal care is very important and the mother watches her eggs lay like an owl. Crocodilians indulge in acoustic communicating through their extraordinary mechano-reception of their sense of hearing.

The Alligatoridae can withstand colder temperatures and are broader than the crocodilians. Alligators are not a separate family and are a component of the crocodilians linage the Alligatoridae has smaller heads and obtuse snouts.

The Alligatoridae with their lizard-like features has powerful and muscular tails.

Life span and Length

The survival strength of the crocodile is much higher than the alligator as they can adapt in any situation and also handle extreme temperatures and saltiness as well.

Crocodile length also helps them to move faster, catch prey faster and fetch for themselves. On the other hand, the alligator is not completely carnivorous like the crocodile.

Alligators do get vegetables and need fresh waters to breed. Their life span may or may not have much to do with their length or habitat and it has more to do with their own internal vertebrate systems that underplay.

Snout and Jaws

As shared above, the length of the crocodile is longer than of the alligator wherein the snout of the crocodile is V-shaped and Alligator has a U shaped snout.

The jaws of the crocodile are of the same size and width; hence both their upper and lower teeth interlock perfectly when crocodile closes their mouth. While the upper jaw of an alligator is wider and overlaps on to the lower teeth.

It’s like the lower teeth are completely hidden when the alligator mouth is closed. This phenomenon is called ‘overbite.

The other noticeable difference is that the large fourth tooth on each side of the alligator’s lower jaw seamlessly sits into the upper jaw like a socket.

While the fourth tooth on each side of the mouth of the crocodile shows to the outside of their mouth as all the other teeth get interlocked when the crocodile’s mouth is closed.


Crocodiles have functional salt glands and these glands are completely missing in the alligator. This makes the crocodile tolerant of saltwater.

The alligators are always found in the freshwater and never will one find them in saltwater.

The alligator is a little new to the world and crocodiles might have lived way before time. This is the reason crocodiles have a longer life and can live in any extreme environment.

In short, a crocodile has an ancestral history of marine life. Crocodiles can adjust to tidal estuaries of the sea. The alligator has lesser osmotic abilities and can tolerate excessive salt for a shorter duration only.

This is the reason alligators are rarely found in the coastal areas.


A crocodile can lay 40 to 90 eggs in a given moment. The time duration between gestation and eggs hatching takes 6 to 8 weeks. There is no specific mating season for crocodiles.

Crocodiles usually dig a hole and make a nest inside the soil to lay their egg. The nest is called a ‘Clutch’.

The alligator mates in June with multiple females in the mating season. The female alligator mates with one.

It’s in July that the female alligator digs a nest in the mud near vegetations to lay her eggs.

The female alligator can lay 10 to 50 eggs in a given time. In September the babies are ready to be hatched.

Other Facts

The crocodile is usually brownish or olive green whereas the alligators are grayish-black in their external appearance.

With regards to the movement speed, crocodiles move a little slower than the alligator but the level of aggression in alligators is much tamer than the crocodile.

Difference Between Crocodile and Alligator


  1. https://repository.si.edu/bitstream/handle/10088/14296/1/USNMP-41_1860_1911.pdf
  2. https://www.wemjournal.org/article/S1080-6032(05)70375-6/fulltext
  3. https://www.rhinoalive.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Crocodile-tears-and-skins-International-trade.pdf
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