The key difference between Caiman and Alligator is in where they live. Caimans live in South and Central America while Alligators live in the Southeast United States and Eastern China. They differ in their subfamilies as well. Caiman belongs to subfamily caimaninae whereas alligator belongs to subfamily alligatorinae.
Caiman and Alligator are two crocodiles like animals. They belong to reptile animal group. However, they differ from crocodiles from several characteristics. Both animals are cold blooded and live in warm climates. They are semi-aquatic and carnivores. They live in freshwater habitats, and are members of family Alligatoridae. However, caiman belongs to subfamily caimaninae and alligator belongs to subfamily alligatorinae.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Caiman
3. What is Alligator
4. Similarities Between Caiman and Alligator
5. Side by Side Comparison – Caiman vs Alligator in Tabular Form
What is Caiman?
Caiman is a small to medium sized reptile living in Central and South America. They somewhat resemble Alligators. Both caimans and alligators belong to same family Alligatoridae. However, caimans are characterized into a separate subfamily caimaninae. They live in fresh water habitats. They are predators, and they can stay underwater for few hours.
Caimans have proportionally larger eyes located higher on the head. Their snout shapes are U shape or V shapes. Their upper jaws overlap with the lower jaws. Hence, their teeth are not visible when the mouth is closed. Teeth of caimans are longer and narrower than that of alligators. And also they are agiler. When compared to alligators, caimans are smaller in size except for black caiman. Caimans are made up of composite osteoderms, and they lack bony septum between nostrils.
What is Alligator?
Alligator is another type of reptile in the family Alligatoridae and subfamily alligatorinae. They live in Southeast America and Eastern China. They are freshwater animals that can live underwater for few hours. Moreover, they have a wide U shaped snout.
They are dark gray or black. Their bodies are comparatively larger than caimans. Alligators have a single bone osteoderm.
What are the Similarities Between Caiman and Alligator?
- They are members of an animal group called Crocodilians.
- Both Caiman and Alligator belong to family Alligatoridae.
- Both are reptiles.
- They are semi-aquatic.
- Both Caiman and Alligator are found in warmer climates.
- They look very similar.
- Both Caiman and Alligator are carnivores.
- They are cold blooded animals.
- Both have about 60 teeth.
- They can stay underwater for few hours.
What is the Difference Between Caiman and Alligator?
Caiman is a reptile that belongs to family Alligatoridae and subfamily caimaninae. Alligator is a reptile that belongs to family Alligatoridae and subfamily alligatorinae. Caiman belongs to the sub family Caimaninae whereas Alligator belongs to the sub family Alligatorinae. When comparing the two species in their body sizes, Caimans are usually smaller than alligators while Alligators are usually larger in size.
The major difference between Caiman and Alligator is in their habitats; Caimans live in Central and South America whereas Alligators are only found in the Southeast United States and Eastern China.Caiman has a composite osteoderms. However, Alligator has a single bone osteoderms. Moreover, Caiman has longer and narrower teeth while Alligator has shorter and wider teeth.
Summary – Caiman vs Alligator
Caiman and Alligator are two reptile groups of family Alligatoridae. Though they belong to the same family, they are in two different subfamilies. Caimans are smaller than alligators and they posses larger and narrower teeth which are agiler. Furthermore, caimans have composite osteoderms while alligators have a single bone osteoderm. This is the difference between Caiman and alligator.
1.Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Caiman.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 9 Feb. 2018. Available here
2.“Alligator.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 28 May 2018. Available here
1.’Caiman yacare’By Lea Maimone – Own work, (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2.’Chinese+american alligators’By C. J. Cornish et al – The Living Animals of the World, (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
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