More often than not, I’ve seen people getting mixed up between crocodiles and alligators. While they both belong to the Crocodilia order, they are members of two quite separate taxonomic families. Besides, alligators DO NOT live in Africa!
The following highlights the major differences between the two species.
– You can’t see an alligator’s teeth when its mouth is closed; its lower teeth fit snugly into pits in the upper jaw. In contrast, a crocodile’s lower teeth are always visible.
– Alligators have a broad snout, while crocodiles have a thinner snout.
– Alligators tend to be grayish black in color, whereas crocodiles have a olive green or brown appearance.
– Alligators can only be found in the southeastern United States and in some parts of China. Crocodiles can be found all over the world.
– In the wild, alligators tend to run away. While not exactly wallflowers, they certainly prefer their own company. Some species of crocodiles, on the other hand, have legendary tempers. The Salt Water Crocodile and the Nile crocodile have been known to eat people.
– The alligator, on the one hand, is a member of the Alligatoridae family.
– On the other hand, the crocodile is part of the Crocodylidae stream.
Both species can be found on the American continent (South Florida), yet the alligator is confined to the United States and China (only a handful left in the wild though).
The crocodile inhabits lakes and rivers of Africa, Asia, America and Australia.
Freshwater or Seawater?
One difference worth mentioning is that alligators prefer freshwater, whilst crocodiles can tolerate seawater conditions better. They have special glands to filter out the salt.
Notice however, that both species can survive in either habitat.
Wider and shorter for the alligator.
Thinner and longer for the crocodile.