Jambo rafiki! 🙂
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.
- Alligator: upper jaw wider than lower part, and the teeth in the lower jaw fit into small cavities in the upper jaw.
- Crocodile: upper and lower jaws are almost identical in width, hence the teeth in the lower jaw become apparent when the mouth is closed. The enormous fourth tooth, on the lower jaw, is especially visible.
Crocodiles have an olive green or brown body coloration.
Alligators are darker in colour: blackish or gray is usually the norm.
One statistic that I really love! 🙂
Generally speaking, crocodiles are larger than alligators, yet size will vary from one species to another. Dwarf crocodiles for instance, will barely reach 1 m (3.3 feet).
– Crocodiles have an average length of about 4-5 m, yet the largest specimens (e.g. saltwater monsters from Australia), can reach sizes in excess of 7 m (23 feet). These impressive beasts can weigh well over 1200 kg.
– Alligators reach lengths of 4 m on average (13 feet) and weigh up to 360 kg. The largest alligator ever recorded was from Florida, and measured 5.3 m (17 feet 5 inches).
Crocodiles have a tendency to be way more aggressive than their cousins the alligators. They won’t hesitate to attack when feeling threatened, while alligators are more docile and usually flee when alarmed.
For both species, the nesting site is extremely important. If the eggs are not laid in ideal conditions they will simply not hatch!
Here again, the difference is rather striking: crocodiles prefer sandy banks or mud to make their nests, whereas alligators search for areas covered in vegetation.