Difference Between Crocodile and Alligator (With Table)

Crocodile vs 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.

The key difference between a crocodile and an alligator lies in 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.


Parameters of ComparisonCrocodileAlligator
FamilyCrocodiliansAlligatoridae
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
HabitatSaltwaterFreshwater
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

How a crocodile looks like
How a crocodile looks like
 

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.

How an alligator looks like
How an alligator looks like

Main Differences Between Crocodile and Alligator

Family

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.

Habitats

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.

Nesting

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’.

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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.


 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Crocodile and Alligator

Which is a more dangerous alligator or crocodile? 🤔

In the fight between an alligator and a crocodile, the crocodile would win in most cases. This is because of the fact that the bodyweight of the crocodile is much more than that of an alligator.

Also, the structure of an alligator is sleek and the jaw span is less when compared with that of a crocodile.

Can an alligator mate with a crocodile?

No, an alligator cannot mate with a crocodile. This is because of the body structures of both the crocodile as well as of the alligators are completely different.

The arrangement of the bones, their family genes is completely different. However, the crocodiles still have the ability to hybridize and mate with other animals.

Can you swim with alligators?

When alligators hear a splash near them in the water, they basically refer to it as free food for them.

So, when a man swims near an alligator, he makes splash sounds due to the movement of his hands and legs which would definitely attract the alligator towards him. Thus, it is not advised to swim with the alligators.

Can alligators climb trees?

Climbing the trees is something that we associate with a monkey and other lightweight animals. But this habit and skill are commonly found in alligators.

These reptiles have been seen climbing and lying down on the branches of the trees which are situated nearby a river. They do so to relax and sometimes to get their prey.

What are alligators afraid of? 🚀

Alligators are very scared of the smell of ammonia and the human pee. So many times in the forest, people make a mixture of the same in the form of spray and use it to tackle the problem of alligators.

Alligators are also afraid of human beings as they also smell the same as the above mixture spray.

Is Alligator bigger than a crocodile? 📈

In the majority of the cases, the size of the crocodile is bigger than that of the alligators. But some alligators can grow as long as the average size of the crocodiles and even bigger. These alligators are an exception from their size point of view.

The mouth portion of an alligator is elongated which sometimes makes its size more than that of a crocodile.

Can crocodiles be friendly?

In the majority of the cases, the crocodiles are found to be very aggressive and lethal in nature. They tend to bite big chunks of flesh from the body of anything which is present in their vicinity.

But, in some special cases like the zoo, circus, etc. people use trained crocodiles who are friendly and obedient in nature and listen to their trainers.


 

Infographic

Crocodile vs Alligator

 

Learn More With the Help of Video


 

Conclusion

Crocodiles and alligators are found in rivers, seas, grasslands kind of places.  Crocodiles are mainly found in the American sub-continent in places like North, Central, and South America.

Crocodiles are also found in Australia, South Asia, and Africa. Alligators are found mainly on the gulf coast, China and southern parts of America.

Both the crocodile and alligator are reptiles living on both land and waters have sense and pressure receptors.

The integumentary sense organs or dermal pressure receptors help them to locate their prey. This receptor is present on the entire body of a crocodile and presents only on the jaws of the alligator.

It’s quite easy to spot the difference between the crocodile and alligator.  Please do read this link to further clear any doubts if any.


 

Word Cloud for Difference Between Crocodile and Alligator

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Crocodile and Alligator. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

Crocodile and Alligator
Word Cloud for Competitive Crocodile and Alligator

 

References

  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
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jeffrey_Lang2/publication/255965383_Thermophilic_Response_of_the_American_Alligator_and_the_American_Crocodile_to_Feeding/links/00b4952114d6499a19000000.pdf

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