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

  • Mom424

    Crocodiles aren’t found across the American continent—they are found in tropical areas of The Americas though.

    • inconspicuous detective

      correct. they only appear in florida as far as i know, and even then they’re rare. they also appear in central america, south has a lack of them i believe.

  • rhijulbec

    Which one can grow to an enormous length, like 20 feet? I remember a show about these huge crocs?/alligators?

    • inconspicuous detective

      crocs generally can get that big. american crocs don’t usually, though nile and salt water crocodiles do get to be about 17-20+ ft.

      • rhijulbec

        Thank you, ID. I knew someone here would know. This and LV are great not only for the quality of the information but also for the intelligence their readers.

  • andres

    great site but the format looks a lot like LISTVERSE, you guys need something more innovative like Google doodles…just a suggestion.


      I don’t see the resemblance between KN and LV… other than the fact that both cover a variety of topics. KN is more bite-sized material to clarify and establish facts, differences, and misconceptions.

      The format here is completely different than that of LV…

      • andres

        well, may be the content is different, but the design, font and art looks like just an Appendix of LV; C’mon this site can be more innovative or at least slightly different than LV.

        • FILOSOFY

          Yeah but as far as I’m concerned, both are created by (or at least initiated by) Jamie Frater- his projects, so I would expect the design to be similar in some kind of way. I actually enjoy the simple layout- gets right to the point without all the annoying ads and everlasting paragraphs.

          Btw the Disqus will be exactly the same because that’s a separate comments provider.

          • andres

            As far as I’m concerned I don’t care a shit what you would expect and what you actually enjoy.

          • FILOSOFY

            Too bad you care enough of a shit to keep commenting.

            Bad troll is bad.

  • Notamonkey

    Love the new site. As a teacher I especially like the “Show Me The Proof” links to further readingn and look forward to the number of articles being big enough to use as an starting point research tool for students. These links are something Listverse lacks and so is of no use as a research tool, despite its interesting content. Accordingly, I would personally discourage the citing of Listverse or similar sites as sources of information.

    • Peach

      It’s pleasant to know you are not a monkey.

      • P5ychoRaz

        That’s just what a monkey would say…

  • Jim Persinger

    ” 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.”

    That’s only really true for crocodiles. An alligator attack is actually quite rare. Golf courses in Florida are known for having alligators in their water hazards. Even minor attacks are hardly ever heard of.

  • i think the crocodile is the most dangerous. he can hack anyone’s life anytime.