What the Difference Is Between Crocodiles and Alligators

Few animals are confused more often than crocodiles and alligators. Sometimes it seems that there is no difference between them at all and that they are just the same reptiles. But this isn’t true. There are indeed a few differences between crocodiles and alligators.

5-Minute Crafts would like to tell you about what the difference is between crocodiles and alligators, what they have in common, and what a Gharial is.

What the difference between crocodiles and alligators is

Here are the 6 main differences between crocodiles and alligators:

  • The shape of their snouts are different. Alligators have a wide U-shaped snout, while crocodiles have a narrow V-shaped snout.
  • Their teeth look different. When an alligator’s mouth is shut, its lower teeth are usually not visible. Some of the crocodile’s lower teeth, on the contrary, are visible, most notably the fourth large
    tooth.
  • They differ in color. Alligators are usually darker than crocodiles. Their color ranges from gray to black and crocodile skin has an olive or brown hue.
  • They have different habitats. Crocodiles live in salt water, while alligators prefer fresh water.
  • They behave differently. Crocodiles are usually more aggressive than alligators.
  • They belong to different families. According to the biological classification, crocodiles belong to Crocodylidae. For example, it includes the American crocodile, Morelet’s crocodile, and the Nile crocodile. And alligators belong to Alligatoridae. Its typical representatives are the spectacled caiman, the American alligator, and the Chinese alligator.

What crocodiles and alligators have in common

  • They are distantly related. Despite the fact that crocodiles and alligators belong to different families, these animals belong to the same order Crocodilia. And they are also the closest relatives of dinosaurs: along with birds, they are the only living descendants of the ancient archosaurs.
  • They are similar in structure. Both crocodiles and alligators have a long body, a big flat head, strong short legs, and powerful tails. Reptile skin is covered with bony scutes that protect them and cover vulnerable spots.
  • They lead a similar lifestyle. Crocodiles and alligators spend part of their life in water, and part on land. They usually swim slowly on the surface of the water or underwater, but after noticing prey, they can speed up and move very quickly. On land, reptiles, on the contrary, are slow and rather clumsy.

What Gavialidae is

In the order Crocodilia, there is another family apart from crocodiles and alligators — Gavialidae. Unlike crocodiles and alligators, its representatives have weak jaws and thin, pointed muzzles. This lets them fish (which is the main diet of gharials). However, they can’t hunt large prey.

Most of Gavialidae became extinct long ago, and the remaining 2 species — the gharial and the false gharial — live mainly in South and Southeast Asia.

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