All You Need To Know About Alligators vs Crocodiles

Two cute alligators
Two cute alligators

Alligators and Crocodiles are two famous reptiles that are often confused with each other. Let us find out some cool new facts about both of them and see what makes them different from each other. The main point of difference between an alligator and a crocodile that may help you distinguish them just by looking is that crocodiles have a longer, narrower snout with a narrower jaw. We will discuss alligators vs crocodiles.

They have a larger skulls and more webbing on their feet than alligators. Crocodiles are the larger of the two animals with bigger and crooked teeth, consequently, they are also the more ferocious ones. Let’s look at some points of difference between alligators vs crocodiles,

Alligator vs Crocodile

1. Physical Attributes

The alligator is a freshwater animal that lives in the Southern US, whereas the crocodile is an animal found in water bodies both fresh and salty. The alligator has a broader snout than the crocodile, which is more streamlined. The alligator also has a wider head, and its eyes are set further apart from one another.

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Alligator
Alligator

Image Source: Wikimedia

Alligators have a broader snout, making them look more like a turtle. They have strong jaws with sharp teeth and powerful claws that can be used to catch prey or defend themselves from predators. Alligators have a defense mechanism called “tonic immobility” where they become paralyzed when they feel threatened or captured by a larger animal. This is achieved by releasing large amounts of chemicals into their bloodstream that immobilize the muscles in their body for up to an hour. Crocodiles lack this defense mechanism and instead rely on speed and agility to catch prey and escape predators.

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A Crocodile Resting on the Shore
A Crocodile Resting on the Shore

Crocodiles’ snout is narrower, which makes it easier for them to keep an eye on their surroundings while submerged underwater. Crocodiles also have very strong jaws with sharp teeth that puncture the skin and prevent the prey from escaping. Crocodiles also have distinctive scales called “crocodile skin” which are not found on alligators.

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2. Habitat

Crocodiles are reptiles that inhabit all kinds of water bodies from freshwater, and brackish to saltwater habitats throughout the world. Their usual residences include rivers, lakes, swamps, ponds, and some coastal waters and estuaries and some even go regularly in salt water. Their reptilian ancestors have been living in freshwater since prehistoric times. Today, crocodiles are still commonly found in these habitats around the globe. However, they are not native to North America. Instead, they were introduced here by humans.

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A Big Scary Crocodile Lying on Brown Soil
A Big Scary Crocodile Lying on Brown Soil

Alligators are also reptiles that prefer to live in fresh waters. Unlike crocodiles, however, alligators do not venture into saltwater habitats. They can be found in some estuaries and even brackish marshes but do not go towards salty seawater. Alligators were first discovered in Florida in 1513. Since then, they have become a popular tourist attraction.

Also Read: All You Need To Know About Frogs vs Toads

Alligators in Cambodia
Alligators in Cambodia

Image Source: Wikimedia

3. Diet

The difference between their diet mainly lies in what they eat for food. Alligators generally, eat other small animals whereas crocodiles will eat anything – including people!

Technically speaking, both crocodiles and alligators are carnivores. This means that they consume meat. Both species primarily eat fish, amphibians, birds, mammals, and invertebrates.  Alligators eat a variety of prey including fish, frogs, birds, and other smaller creatures. Crocodiles, apart from eating these animals, do not mind bigger animals either. Crocodiles also engage in eating other smaller crocs! Crocodiles are also the ones that often make news for attacking humans.

A Big Scary Crocodile Lying on Brown Soil
A Big Scary Crocodile Lying on Brown Soil

Image Source: Wikipedia

The eating habits of crocodiles and alligators are dependent to a large extent on their age and gender. Young crocodiles eat smaller fish than adults do. Adult females eat more fish than adult males do. Males consume more food than females do.

Two cute alligators
Two cute alligators

Image Source: Tambako The Jaguar

4. Behavior

Crocodiles and alligators spend much of their time basking in the sun. They use their bodies as solar panels to warm themselves up. They often bask at night too. When basking, crocodiles, and alligators close their eyes. They open them again when they feel threatened.

Lots of crocodiles
Lots of crocodiles

Image Source: Tatters

When basking, crocodiles rest on land. They may lie down on rocks or logs. They also sleep on the ground. Alligators, on the other hand, tend to sleep in trees. They climb up into trees to get away from predators.

Crocodile and alligator populations vary based on their environment. Freshwater crocodiles are found in Africa, Australia, Asia, and South America. Saltwater crocodiles are found only in Australia and Southeast Asia.

Crocodile
Crocodile

5. Threats

There are many threats to crocodilians. These include hunting, habitat loss, pollution, climate change, and invasive species. Ha bitat loss is the biggest threat to crocodiles. Humans are responsible for the destruction of over half of the world’s wetlands. This causes crocodiles to lose access to their natural habitats.

Crocodile with open mouth
Crocodile with open mouth

Image Source: Tambako The Jaguar

Pollution and climate change pose a serious threat to these reptiles. As temperatures rise, they move further inland as they are extremely sensitive to temperature changes. This makes it harder for them to find suitable habitats. If they don’t adapt, they could face extinction.

Crocodiles and alligators are also farmed commercially for their hide for leather products and for their meat which is often eaten as a delicacy in many western countries.

An Alligator Resting Near a Swamp
An Alligator Resting Near a Swamp

6. Reproduction in Crocodiles and Alligators

Crocodiles and alligators are reptiles, which means they are cold-blooded. This is an important distinction to make for understanding their reproductive process because it impacts how their body temperature changes as they go through the cycle of mating, ovulation, and egg-laying. Reptiles don’t have a menstrual cycle as humans do, but they still have a mating season and ovulate eggs that can be fertilized by males at any time during the year.

Crocodiles at Crocodile Bank
Crocodiles at Crocodile Bank

Image Source: Wikimedia

The female crocodile or alligator will lay eggs in a nest on land or in water if there is no nest available. The female can lay up to 50 eggs at one time with an average of 20-25 eggs per clutch. The female then covers her eggs with sand or leaves so that they can incubate until they hatch after about 3 months.

Males will fight with each other for access to females who are ready to mate which happens when they start producing eggs or eggs start developing inside them. Since both of them share a common ancestor there is not much of a difference in reproductive behavior. Eggs however can be distinguished between species. This is one of the major differences between alligators vs crocodiles.

American Alligators
American Alligators

Image Source: Wikimedia

These are the facts you need to about alligators vs crocodiles in the world. Kindly share and do post your comments.

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