Difference Between Alligators and Crocodiles

“Never smile at a crocodile. No, you can’t get friendly with a crocodile.” —Jack Lawrence

In a Nutshell

A crocodile has a ‘V’ shaped snout while an alligator has a rounded ‘U’ shaped snout. A crocodile’s upper and lower jaws are different sizes so their teeth are always exposed. An alligator has even jaws hiding all but a little of its upper teeth. Crocs and alligators are different colors too: crocodiles are olive-brown and alligators are dark-brown or dark green.

The Whole Bushel

From the description above can you guess what animal is in the picture? It’s an alligator! Alligators and crocodiles live in different parts of the world, though obviously many are housed in foreign zoos. Alligators are mostly found in eastern China and the southern parts of the United States and crocodiles are found in Australia, Africa, south-east Asia, and across the American continent.

Because crocodiles have special glands to help them cope with salt, they are quite often found near salt water though they also like fresh water. Alligators are more likely to be found in fresh water lakes and rivers but they can tolerate salt to a certain extent.

Crocs and alligators are both from the order Crocodilia but only crocodiles are “true” crocodiles; the animals are taxonomically different.

Both of these ancient looking beasts are highly dangerous and they are fast on land and water. If you are close enough to a crocodile or alligator for him to see you smile, you are in big trouble: unless you’re up a tree or behind a zoo fence.

Show Me The Proof

Listverse: 20 Differences That Confuse Us All
National Geographic: Saltwater Crocodiles
LiveScience: Alligator Facts