What Is The Difference Between An Alligator and A Crocodile?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who grew up assuming that an Alligator and a Crocodile were the same animals. It wasn’t until I started spending more time in New Orleans that I learned that these were two different reptiles with several differences.

Although they look similar, they behave differently and are from different biological families. If you planned on seeing crocodiles during your New Orleans swamp tour, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but crocodiles don’t inhabit New Orleans. However, you will find alligators as well as other fascinating wildlife when you take a guided swamp tour through the Louisiana Bayou.

The Appearance of an Alligator vs. a Crocodile

There are a handful of differences between Alligators and Crocodiles, especially in appearance. Once you know these differences, you’ll be able to easily distinguish the two.

One notable difference is located on the hind legs of both crocodiles and alligators. Alligators have webbed feet for maximum speed in swimming, and crocodiles don’t. While the crocodile has a jagged fringe on their hind legs and their feet.

Here are more facts about the two helping identify the difference between crocodiles and alligators.

Jaw and Snout Shape

One of the main differences in appearance is the look and shape of their snout. Alligators have U-shaped broader snouts. Crocodiles have narrow V-shaped snouts.

They also have different teeth, and you can quickly tell the difference between them when their mouths are closed. An alligator’s upper jaw is wider than its lower jaw to hide all their lower teeth.

You can see some of a crocodile’s bottom teeth when their jaw is closed, giving them that iconic toothy grin. The massive fourth tooth on each side of the crocodile’s lower jaw is always outside the snout when its mouth is closed.

Alligator vs. Crocodile Coloring

Alligators tend to be darker in color than crocodiles; alligators are dark blackish-grey, whereas crocodiles are light tan or olive color. When alligators have algae growth on their skin, they will appear more greenish.

The Size Difference of the Two Reptiles

Between the two, the American alligator is smaller. Typically, the alligator will grow between six and 12 feet in length but have been recorded at up to 19 feet.

The crocodile is the largest of reptiles today, growing up to 20 feet long. The largest ever recorded weighed in at 2,000 pounds and 23 feet in length.

Crocodile vs. Alligator Behavior

Some say humans get cranky in their old age. Maybe it is true with reptiles as well. The alligator lives 30 to 50 years while the crocodile will live 70 to 100 years old. And, the crocodile wins for the crankier of the two.

Also, crocodiles are slower than alligators on both land and water, mainly due to size.

Alligators vs. Crocodiles: Which is Stronger?

Of the two reptiles, the crocodile would win in a face to face combat. Although the alligator is faster, here are the reasons why the crocodile would win:

  1. Crocodiles are usually bigger and heavier.
  2. Crocs have a more lethal bite due to their size and strength.
  3. Crocodiles are much more aggressive than alligators.

Alligators typically will go their own way and avoid humans unless guarding a nest. However, the crocodile will attack for no apparent reason. Cranky!

Where are Alligators and Crocodiles Found?

Alligators and crocodiles inhabit different parts of the world. Alligators by far outnumber crocodiles in the United States; there are over 3 million alligators and fewer than 2,000 crocodiles.

There is only one place in the world where alligators and crocodiles can live side by side, and that is near the southernmost tip of Florida.

Where Alligators Live

Alligators can only be found in eastern China and the southeastern United States. The American alligator is found predominantly in Louisiana and Florida and some parts of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, the Carolinas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

Alligators basking in the southern sun can be seen mostly in freshwater. Over the years, the alligator’s glands seem to have diminished in their ability to release the salt, making it undesirable for them to be in saltwater habitats.

Where Crocodiles Live

Most Crocodiles can also be found in Africa, Australia, Southeast Asia, and parts of the Americas. There is a species of American crocodile that live in the southernmost tip of Florida.

The crocodile species have functioning salt glands located on their tongues. These glands allow it to eliminate excess salt, making it easier for the saltwater crocodile to go between saltwater and freshwater.

Where Can You See Live Alligators?

One place where you’re sure to find alligators is on a swamp tour through the Bayou in New Orleans. You don’t have to worry about alligators attacking you on your swamp tour since alligators are less aggressive than crocodiles and will typically escape if approached by humans.

So, no need to worry. The capable and experienced Captains of Bayou Swamp Tours will guide you safely through the entire tour, entertaining and informing you along the way.

Call today to schedule your exciting Swamp Tour through the Bayou!

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