The Difference Between Crocodiles and Alligators

The Difference Between Crocodiles and Alligators

Have you wondered about the difference between alligators and crocodiles? The answer is yes. While they are both related and have a similar appearance, alligators and crocodiles have several significant differences, and you can read more about alligators vs crocodiles here. To learn more facts about alligators vs crocodiles, read below.


Alligators prefer to live in freshwaters such as lakes and rivers, while crocodiles can live both in saltwater and freshwater.


Crocodiles and alligators belong in the same scientific category but come from different ancestries. They both are members of the family of Crocodylia; however, crocodiles are mainly from the Crocodylidae family, while the alligators belong to the Alligatordae family.


The most obvious and the primary distinction when it comes to alligators vs crocodiles is their appearance. Crocodiles have pointier, longer snouts, while alligators have more rounded, shorter snouts. When the alligator’s mouth is closed, people would not see all of its teeth. On the other hand, when the crocodile’s mouth is closed, its back teeth will stick up over its top lip, exposing a toothy grin.

Because of its broad width, the snout of an alligator is firmer or stronger than the crocodile’s. The alligator’s snout width also allows them to crush many hard-shelled animals like turtles. Moreover, crocodiles usually have a lighter color compared to alligators. Crocodiles have a mixture of brown and tan colors, while alligators have darker shades such as black and gray.


Both animals have very heightened senses, making them fast and alert hunters. With above-water vision, sensitive hearing, sharp day and night vision, and vertical pupils that can absorb more light, crocodiles and alligators are their prey’s nightmare. With their above-water vision, you should expect to see these animals peeping with their eyes slightly above the water level.

Moreover, both of these animals have their tiny sensory pits located along their jaws. These sensory pits allow them to sense changes in water pressure, making it a lot easier to sense and capture their prey. However, neither of these reptiles is fond of chewing their prey as they eat it. They prefer to swallow it immediately, in large chunks, and sometimes, they swallow it whole.

Crocodiles also have high-functioning salt glands that enable them to excrete large amounts of salt from the water, more than alligators can. The alligator’s glands cannot function as actively as the crocodile’s. It means they can only tolerate less saltwater, which is why they prefer residing in freshwaters. Because they have stronger salt glands, crocodiles are more capable of migrating across different marine environments.


Crocodiles are known to be more hostile than alligators. While people should avoid being in close contact with both predators, alligators in some places seem to be more passive than crocodiles. With that, alligators only attack if provoked and hungry.


Studies reported that a significant number of the female alligator population would constantly mate with only one male alligator for their entire life. But on the other hand, studies also proved that baby crocodiles are born from different mates.


Alligators have a shorter life span compared to crocodiles. Their average life span is only thirty to fifty years, while crocodiles have an average of seventy to one hundred years.

And this sums up the difference between the two animals. Knowing all these facts, it would be much easier for you to determine which is which according to their behavior patterns and biological characteristics.

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