Home Brands Products Deals Promo Finder Store Features Forums Add Review What's Knoji? Sign Up Login

What Is The Difference Between A Crocodile And An Alligator?

Knoji reviews products and up-and-coming brands we think you'll love. In certain cases, we may receive a commission from brands mentioned in our guides. Learn more.
What's the difference between a crocodile and an alligator

Crocodiles and alligators are amazing creatures, surviving largely unchanged for over 200 million years. Man, by comparison, has been around for approximately 3 million years. Following a recent trip to a safari park, my inquisitive little boy – who was clearly impressed by these beasts – asked, “Daddy, what’s the difference between a crocodile and an alligator?” Good question I thought. So what’s the answer?

Family

Well, both crocodiles and alligators are reptiles and members of the Crocodilia order, which also includes the less well known gharial or gavial which are located in the Indian subcontinent. But they do belong to different families (meaning a lower or more specific biological classification), crocodiles to Crocodylidae and alligators to the aptly named Alligatoridae.

Physical differences

Although many people confuse the two on sight, there a number of clear physical distinctions and differences in appearance. For example, crocodiles have longer, narrower heads with a V-shaped type snout whereas alligators tend to have shorter, wider heads and more of a U-shaped snout. The alligator’s top jaw is wider than its lower one which means that when it has its mouth closed, one only tends to see the upper teeth. The crocodile’s upper and lower jaws by comparison are typically the same width usually leading to all teeth being on display even when it has its mouth is closed (spooky!). Moving down the body, alligators lack the kind of jagged fringe which shows on the back legs and feet of the crocodile. Another physical difference is that crocodiles tend to be a lighter colour than alligators, the former often a browny olive shade the latter almost black. They are rarely the type of green one sees in cartoons and in pictures.

Location

Alligators can be found in South Eastern USA and some parts of Central and South America, plus China. Crocodiles are wider spread around the globe and live throughout the tropics in the Americas, Asia, Australia and Africa. Crocodiles usually lay their eggs in sand or mud nests either in fresh or brackish (salty) water, while alligators use the vegetation around freshwater to construct their nests. They rarely stay for long in brackish areas because they have a lower tolerance for salt water than crocodiles.

Which is more dangerous?

Of course, my son also wanted to know which was the most dangerous! Generally speaking, crocodiles tend to grow larger (though that is not always true) and for the most part are considered the more aggressive. Indeed, the saltwater crocodile can grow up to 23 feet long even though its eggs tend to be no bigger than those of a goose. Having said that, because of the wider snout, alligators can pack incredible crushing power in their bite. But, differences aside, both of these remarkable creatures are highly evolved predators, will eat just about everything they can, and sometimes don’t even stop to chew...

21 comments

Carolina Dursina
0
Posted on Jun 19, 2011
Sharla Smith
0
Posted on Jun 18, 2011
Brian MacLennan
1
Posted on Jun 1, 2011
Account Deletion Requested
0
Posted on May 19, 2011
Donata L.
0
Posted on May 9, 2011
gerrie grimsley
0
Posted on May 6, 2011
Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
0
Posted on May 6, 2011
lucia anna
0
Posted on May 5, 2011
Guest
Posted on May 4, 2011
Tijmen
0
Posted on May 4, 2011
Eva Coombes
0
Posted on May 1, 2011
Tanya Wallace
0
Posted on May 1, 2011
Steve Sudbury
0
Posted on May 1, 2011
Norma MacLennan
0
Posted on Apr 30, 2011
deepblue
0
Posted on Apr 30, 2011
Sandy James
0
Posted on Apr 30, 2011
Pearl Wilson
0
Posted on Apr 30, 2011
Phoenix Montoya
0
Posted on Apr 25, 2011
Aunty Ann
0
Posted on Apr 24, 2011
John Smither
0
Posted on Apr 24, 2011
Jan Reid
0
Posted on Apr 23, 2011

About This Article

Steve Sudbury

Explore Top Fitness Equipment Brands

Expand more
Top-ranked fitness equipment brands