The Difference Between An Alligator And A Crocodile

Alligator Crossing the Road
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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 scaly bodies, and the strength to pull their prey underwater in a mere moment. But, it's important to give respect 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. You can visit Everglades National Park to see the two species coexist.

As for where you'll find them swimming, crocodiles prefer to live and hunt in brackish or salt water, while gators prefer a freshwater habitat.

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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 Different

An adult crocodile can grow several feet longer than an alligator. American alligators have been known to grow to 14 feet long, with females rarely exceeding 10 feet in length. The American crocodile has the potential to grow to 20 feet long, though it is usually not that large in the wild.

Beyond size, alligators have a rounded snout and tend to be 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, have a pointy snout and tend to be more light gray to olive green in color.

Can An Alligator And A Crocodile Mate?

Sadly for mad scientists everywhere, the answer to this question 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, outside of wild Florida, they tend to live in different parts of the world, making this a long-distance love affair that would be doomed to fail anyway.

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