Many people are unaware that there’s a difference between alligators and crocodiles and use both terms interchangeably to describe any large water-dwelling lizard with big teeth. What they don’t realize is that, despite some similarities, the two reptiles don’t look or behave the same. They also belong to different biological families.
8 ways to tell alligators and crocodiles apart:
- Shape of the snout. The crocodile’s snout is pointed and V-shaped, and the alligator’s is wide and U-shaped.
- Location. Alligators are only found in parts of the US and China, whereas crocodiles can be found across the world.
- Habitat. Crocodiles prefer water that is more saline or salty than the alligator’s preferred freshwater habitat.
- Toothy grin. Crocodiles can’t hide their teeth, but alligators’ teeth are sometimes hidden when their mouths are closed.
- Size. A full-grown crocodile will likely be several feet longer than an adult alligator.
- Color. Crocodiles are generally lighter in color than alligators.
- Speed. On land and in water, crocodiles are usually slower than alligators.
- Behavior. In terms of aggression, an alligator might seem tame compared to a crocodile.
Once you understand the differences, it is actually pretty easy to tell them apart.