Difference Between Alligators and Crocodiles

Alligators vs Crocodiles

When it comes to the members of the animal kingdom, there are some of them that share a lot of features that it is easy for the regular guy to get them mixed up or to think of one as the other. Alligators and Crocodiles are two such creatures that are difficult to differentiate. Both are amphibious reptiles with similar features, though there are differences too.


Alligators belong to the crocodilian family Alligatoridae. Two known species are the Chinese alligator and the American alligator. The term alligator is derived from the Spanish word for lizard. These reptiles have managed to survive for 200 million years without evolving a lot and are popularly referred to as living fossils. Alligators are found in China and the United States. Chinese alligators are smaller than their American counterparts. A large American alligator can weight around 800lbs to 1,000lbs and be 13ft to 14.5ft in size. Alligators can live up to 50 years more or less. Alligators thrive in fresh waters such as lakes, swamps and marshes as well as in brackish waters. Most American alligators can be found in the southeastern part of the country especially in Florida, Louisiana, George, Alabama and Mississippi. Chinese alligators, on the other hand, reside in the Yangtze River and its neighboring areas.


Another type of crocodilians that are mistakenly interchanged with the alligators is the crocodiles. Although the term crocodile is also used to refer to alligators as well as other members of the Crocodilia family, it is most appropriate to use when referring to the true crocodiles. Generally, the species that are considered to be members of the Crocodylidae family are those large reptiles living in the water and can be found in the tropical parts of the globe. Just like the alligators, crocodiles also live in freshwater environments.

What’s the difference between Alligators and Crocodiles?

There are a lot of similarities between these two species, but a difference between alligators and crocodiles can be found in a number of aspects as well. For one, they are quite different in their physical structure. Both are mean looking, but their snouts are actually different in shape. Crocodiles come with pointed and narrower v-shaped snout while alligators have u-shaped ones. The crocodiles’ slimmer snouts are flexible for fish-hunting while the alligators’ are wider, giving them greater power to crush their food prey. Another difference between alligators and crocodiles that can easily be noticed is the slight difference in their color. The former are blackish in appearance while the latter appear to be light olive brown in color.

In brief:

1. Alligators and crocodiles are both amphibious reptiles from the Crocodilia family.

2. Like alligators thrive in freshwater habitats, crocodiles also live in marshes, lakes, ponds and the likes.

3. Alligators and crocodiles have different colors. The former are blackish, while the latter are olive brown.

4. Crocodiles have longer and slimmer snouts that are V-shaped, while alligators have wider U-shaped snouts.

Being able to tell crocodiles and alligators apart is essential in order for one to determine what to expect from these creatures. They can be quite dangerous, so everyone needs as much information about them as possible.