Many people are unaware that there are differences between alligators and crocodiles and use both terms interchangeably. The two reptiles don’t look or behave the same way as each other. They also belong to different biological families.
What are the differences between alligators and crocodiles? Well, there are essentially five things to look out for when you are seeking to tell them apart.
- Shape of the snout
- Size and aggression
- Freshwater vs. saltwater
Alligators live only in the southeastern USA and eastern China, whereas crocodiles can be found right across the world in Africa, Australia, Asia, North America, South America and Central America. Southern Florida is the only place in the world where you will find crocodiles and alligators living side by side.
2. Different Snouts
One of the main differences between alligators and crocodiles is the snout. The alligator’s snout is broader and shaped like a U, whereas the crocodile’s is longer and narrower and more V-shaped. The alligator bite is more powerful. When the mouth is closed, the alligator has none of its bottom teeth visible, whereas the crocodile’s lower fourth tooth can always be seen.
An adult crocodile can grow up to roughly 19 feet long, whereas for alligators the length is around 14 feet. Crocodiles can also move much faster on land than alligators.
4. Freshwater and Saltwater
Crocodiles have special glands in their tongues which excrete excess salt from their bodies. They are capable of spending days, or even weeks at sea. Alligators usually stick to freshwater habitats
Crocodile have a light tan, or olive colour. Whereas alligators have usually a dark blackish grey colour.