What’s the Difference Between Alligators and Crocodiles?

difference between alligators and crocodiles

Alligators - If you’ve ever visited the Sunshine State, you can’t miss them. They’re big, exciting and everywhere you look in the Everglades. In fact, as Floridians, we’re kind of used to sharing our gorgeous state with them – and we respect the contribution they’ve made to our home. But what’s the difference between an alligator and a crocodile and do they both live in Florida? If you’re interested in meeting an alligator, or you’re just looking for some fun information on how to recognize one, here’s a few facts to get you started.

Alligators Versus Crocodiles

To most people, alligators and crocodiles look pretty similar. While they do share many of the same features, they couldn’t be more different to a trained professional. Physically, the snout and jawline are unique to each, and probably the easiest way to distinguish an alligator from a crocodile. Alligators have a wide, rounded, u-shaped snout, while crocodiles have long, pointed v-shaped snouts. The difference in shape means alligators can exert more strength, which is useful in cracking open hard-shelled invertebrates, like turtles.

The jaw is another easy way to tell an alligator from a crocodile. Alligators have a wide upper jaw, which allows for the lower teeth to be hidden in the mouth. By contrast, the upper and lower jaws of a crocodile are the same size, exposing both sets of teeth as they interlock on the jawline creating a kind of toothy grin. From a distance, it’s usually easy to tell one from the other simply by looking at the shape of the snout and the teeth.

Both alligators and crocodiles are massive reptiles. Gators can grow to be as long as 13 feet, weighing in at a hefty 800-100 pounds, but crocs can reach an impressive 19 feet in length and can weight as much as 2,900 pounds! They both swim quite well, using the tail to maneuver through water with ease, but they can also run pretty fast on land – up to 11 miles per hour! Submerged in water, both reptiles can hold their breath for up to an hour, and with eyes on top of the head, their tough to surprise. Night vision is their forte, and both gators and crocodiles are excellent hunters after dark.

Where Do They Live?

Alligators and crocodiles can be found all over the world – wherever slow moving rivers and grasslands dominate. Crocs tend to prefer salty waters while gators hang out in fresh water marshes. Alligators thrive in China and southeastern portion of the United States, particularly Florida and states along the Gulf Coast while crocodiles are native to North, Central and South America, Africa, Australia and parts of Asia. Interestingly, the Florida Everglades is the only place in the world where both alligators and crocodiles live together.

The Crocodylidea family includes 23 different species, but the Alligatoridae contains only 2 – the alligator and the Caiman. Typically, crocodiles are more aggressive than alligators and as such, are more dangerous. Alligators are opportunistic feeders, meaning they’re not likely to chase you down unless provoked. However, that certainly doesn’t mean you should swim with them, and caution and common sense should be exercised at all times.

How to Meet a Live Alligator In Person

Are you ready to come face to face with a living dinosaur? You can at Everglades Holiday Park – the premier destination for families, outdoor enthusiasts and reptile aficionados. With exciting Everglades airboat tours, live alligator presentations and the chance to pose with a baby alligator for a picture, the park is South Florida’s best family fun locale for adventure. As home to the Gator Boys Alligator Rescue, Everglades Holiday Park welcomes families, outdoor enthusiasts and anyone interested in journeying through the Florida Everglades in search of alligators, long legged wading birds, snakes and more!

For more information or to book an exciting excursion through the Everglades on a narrated airboat tour in Florida, please visit www.evergladesholidaypark.com

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