Unless you work with them up close, you’d could be forgiven for thinking that alligators and crocodiles were one and the same! They’re both toothy, water-dwelling beasties that seem to be throwbacks from an ancient time. They’re also both pretty deadly to handle unless you know what you’re doing!
However, did you know that there are actually more differences between alligators and crocodiles than just their names? Here’s a quick list of the main differences – so you know how to address one in future!
One of the main differences between the species is, of course, where they live. The fact is, alligators and crocodiles are never likely to hang out in the same place. You’ll find alligators enjoy freshwater sources – meaning you’ll spot them in lakes and vast bodies of water – while crocodiles are saltwater lovers.
In addition to this, it’s unlikely you’ll find an alligator outside of the US in the wild, though some live in China. Crocodiles, meanwhile, are more widespread. Therefore, on sheer probability alone, you’re more likely to run into a croc than you are a gator.
You’ll also tell the difference between a crocodile and an alligator thanks to their snouts. Crocodiles, on the whole, have narrower noses. You’d probably describe the snout of a croc to be around a v-shape. Alligators, meanwhile, have much wider snouts.
Believe it or not, one is more aggressive and more likely to pick a fight than the other! While both are extremely deadly and are not to be played with, alligators are less likely to attack you than crocodiles. Why is this? Who knows!
You’ll also know a croc if you see it dawdling. Alligators are notoriously nippy both in and out of the water, whereas crocodiles tend to take things more slowly. They both cruise at a fair speed, but it’s another common factor that separates them!
Crocodiles, on the whole, are also much bigger than alligators – especially when fully grown. Therefore, from what we’ve learned so far, crocodiles are bigger and meaner than their freshwater cousins!
Alligators’ teeth tend to hide well. Thanks to the ways that their mouths differ, most crocodiles will have one or two teeth that hang over the edge of their mouths when shut. Some people think this can give them a somewhat goofy look! Gators, meanwhile, close all their teeth away.
This is also due to jaw size. Alligator jaws tend to be much wider than crocodile jaws, which is why a croc is never too afraid to show you its smile.
You’ll also spot differences in color. On the whole, the darker the color, the more likely it is you’re dealing with an alligator. Crocodiles can be tan or lighter brown than gators, who can be black-skinned or even greyish.
Alligators and crocodiles actually belong to the same genetic group, Eusuchia. Eusuchia have three categories – alligators, crocodiles and gharials. Gharials are nightmarish-looking beasts with extremely long snouts – and they tend to live in Asian waterways, particularly in India.
Do you know any interesting facts about crocodiles or alligators? Share them in the comments below!