The Difference Between an Alligator and a Crocodile
Coming face-to-face with either a crocodile or an alligator is undoubtedly a frightening situation. After all, they both have mouths that are packed with some seriously oversized sharp teeth, green scaley bodies, and the strength to pull their prey underwater in a mere moment. But, it’s important to give respect to where respect is due in the animal kingdom, because crocs and gators couldn’t be more different.
Where they live:
Crocodiles, Owlcation explained, can be found across the world, while their alligator friends are only found in parts of the United States and China. Alligators typically live across Southern states including Florida, Louisiana, parts of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. There are an estimated 3 million alligators currently living in the U.S., according to Owlcation.
Of course, you shouldn’t completely count the American crocodile out. As Owlcation noted, there are about 2,000 crocodiles in the U.S., but they live exclusively in the southern tip of Florida.
As for where you’ll find them swimming, crocodiles prefer to live and hunt in salt water, while gators prefer a freshwater habitat.
They have entirely different teeth:
Perhaps the easiest way to tell an alligator and a crocodile apart is by looking at their teeth. When their snouts are shut, LiveScience explained, crocodiles appear to be smiling with an upward turning grin. Their fourth tooth on their lower jaw sticks up over the upper lip. But, with alligators, when their mouths are closed, their teeth are almost completely hidden because the beast’s upper jaw is wider than its lower jaw.
Alligators and crocodiles look rather different up close:
According to Owlcation, an adult crocodile can grow up to 19 feet in length, A crocodile looks almost tiny next to it, at just 14 feet in length.
Beyond size, alligators tend to more of a dark gray than green, which helps it blend with its murky water surroundings. Its hide can become a bit more green thanks to the algae in the water. Crocodiles, on the other hand, tend to be more light tan to olive green in color.
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One is much more ferocious than the other:
Yes, they both can kill you, alligators are far less aggressive than crocodiles. When approached by humans, gators will likely attempt to flee rather than fight. They typically only attack when they are provoked (which is why feeding an alligator is a terrible idea).
Crocs, however, are more likely to attack, even if they aren’t provoked. But, it’s important to remember that attacks on humans are still incredibly rare.
Can an alligator and a crocodile mate?
Sadly for mad scientists everywhere, the answer is no. According to Owlcation, both alligators and crocodiles fall into the “Crocodilia” order, but they're not related closely enough to interbreed. And, remember, they tend to live in different parts of the world, making this a long distance love affair that would be doomed to fail anyway.