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What is the Difference Between Crocodiles and Alligators?

What is the difference between crocodiles and alligators? – Keep reading to learn more! Crocodiles and Alligators have been dubbed “living fossils” as they have been on the planet for over 70 million years. They walked alongside the dinosaurs, and now they’re their closest living relative. These reptilian kings have kept most of their appearance throughout the ages as it’s proven beneficial for their lifestyle, and they’re unique to many of their cold-blooded cousins. The confusion between them has been debated for years, with many people not knowing their differences. It’s understandable, as they share a striking resemblance. However, in the same breath, there are distinctive differences in which they can be told apart.

Both species are known for their rugged looks and killer jaws, and they’re an animal best admired from a distance. Despite their vicious nature, they’ve been displayed in zoos and sanctuaries for decades with minimal accidents on record. People have gone out of their way to learn how to become handlers and get close to these large reptiles, but of course, there is always a risk as, just like their heritage, their instincts run deep, and being unpredictable is one of their fortés. With many things in common, Crocodiles and Alligators still shouldn’t be referred to one another as this will be incorrect, so how do you know which is which? Let’s discuss the main differences between these monstrous lizards.

What is the Difference between Crocodiles and Alligators?

These are the Biggest Difference between Crocodiles and Alligators!

Difference Between Crocodiles and Alligators | Healthier Pets Today

Size

Both beasts are large compared to an average human, but the size difference between the two is undeniable. Although there isn’t a large size gap, it’s still relatively noticeable.

Alligators – Alligators are smaller than Crocodiles but don’t let this fool you. their size is still intimation. The American male alligator measures around 11.2 feet (3.4 meters) and females around 8.2 feet (2.6 meters). The average height of a human being is around 5.9 feet (175cm), so as you can see, although smaller than the crocodile, alligators are still a remarkable size. The largest males weigh about 1000 pounds (454kg).

Crocodiles – these massive reptiles can reach sizes of 17 feet (5.18 meters). The largest-ever crocodile was named Lonlong and shocked all with its incredible size of 20.3 feet (6.18 meters) and weighing a whopping 2,370 pounds (1075kg). Saltwater crocodiles take center stage as the largest reptiles in the world, and there’s no surprise as to why!

Appearance

These creatures have mean appearances, and for a good reason, it matches their personalities. As they are the closest relative to dinosaurs, it’s only natural for the way they look. They’ve kept almost every attribute of their ancestors. Why change what works best?

Alligators – alligators have upward-facing snouts that are rounded with nostrils facing upwards as well. This helps them to breathe properly when lurking in the water. Baby alligators have yellowish stripes on their tails that gradually darken to green as they become older. They have four short legs with four toes on the back and five on the front, their skin is a dark shade of green, and their backs are armored with protruding bony plates. They have large, flat, and muscular tails that help them with swimming. They have either 74 or 80 teeth at a time which are hidden away when their mouths are closed. 

Crocodiles – these large reptiles are lighter in color than alligators and are known to have gray-colored areas. Their large jaws house around 64 to 68 teeth and tend to stick out when closed. Their snouts are more v-shaped, with their features sitting relatively upward on their massive heads. Their visible lower teeth are sometimes shades of green, brown, or gray. They share similar armored-looking skin with plates, just like alligators; however, their protruding bumps are smaller.

Origin

Difference Between Crocodiles and Alligators | Healthier Pets Today

Alligators and crocodiles only co-exist in the Florida Everglades. These two can get along, but it is also highly likely that there’ll be fighting involved. Other than this, they hail from different parts of the world. 

Alligators – American alligators occupy the freshwater slow-moving rivers and swamps of the United States, Texas, and North Carolina. The endangered Chinese alligators are solely located in the Yangtze River, but there are a few in the Rockefeller Wildlife refuge in the hopes of getting them off the endangered list. 

Crocodiles – crocodiles can be found in Australia, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. They thrive in these tropical regions as they’re unable to generate heat on their own. 

Diet

Difference Between Crocodiles and Alligators | Healthier Pets Today

Both alligators and crocodiles are carnivores and have a big appetite, but because of their environment, they tend to eat different sources of meat.

Alligators – any easy meal will do as alligators are opportunists. They mainly feast on birds, fish, turtles, frogs, and any available mammals. Surprisingly they also eat berries, citrus fruit, and grapes in their environment! Of course, they still prefer meat which makes up their main diet.

Crocodiles – just like alligators, crocodiles are opportunists. However, their food options are different. Crocodiles have been known to eat baby hippos, large impalas, and even lions. Anything that stumbles across their path could be a potential meal. They also enjoy other amphibians, fish, and crustaceans.

Lifespan

Alligators and crocodiles can live long, full lives and even outlive some humans. Their lifespan differs as in the wild and in captivity, and regardless there is always a gamble on the number of years they’ll live.

Difference Between Crocodiles and Alligators | Healthier Pets Today

Alligators – the lifespan of an alligator is around 30 to 50 years of age, and when kept in captivity, they live as long as 70 years. An alligator’s biggest contributor to their health and longevity is humans. As humans often hunt, it causes habitation loss and poisons their environment.

Crocodiles – the saltwater crocodile can live for 70 years, while the Nile crocodile will live to about 50 to 60 years old. It’s not uncommon for saltwater crocodiles in captivity to even reach 100 years of age! The oldest recorded crocodile Mr. Freshie, reached 140 years before he passed. 

Colossal Cousins – The Difference between Crocodiles and Alligators

Alligators and crocodiles have similarities but are not the same. They have differences in appearance, demeanor, and environment.

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