How Crocodiles Differ from Alligators

year ago

Crocodiles and alligators are often mistaken for each other, but there are distinct differences between these two reptiles. One of the main differences is the shape of their snouts. Alligators have a broad, rounded snout while crocodiles have a narrow, V-shaped snout. They also inhabit different parts of the world and have different levels of aggression towards humans. Additionally, the Gharial is another type of crocodilian with a long, thin snout, found primarily in India.

The 6 main differences between a crocodile and an alligator

Listed below are the key differences between crocodiles and alligators:

  • Snout shape: Alligators have a wide, U-shaped snout while crocodiles have a narrow, V-shaped snout.
  • Teeth appearance: When an alligator’s mouth is shut, its lower teeth are typically not visible, whereas some of a crocodile’s lower teeth are visible, particularly the fourth large tooth.
  • Skin color: Alligators are typically darker than crocodiles, with color ranging from gray to black, while crocodile skin has an olive or brown hue.
  • Habitat preference: Crocodiles tend to live in salt water, while alligators prefer fresh water.
  • Aggression levels: Crocodiles are generally more aggressive towards humans than alligators.
  • Taxonomic classification: Crocodiles belong to the Crocodylidae family, which includes species such as the American crocodile, Morelet’s crocodile, and the Nile crocodile, while alligators are part of the Alligatoridae family, which includes species such as the spectacled caiman, American alligator, and Chinese alligator.

Shared characteristics of crocodiles and alligators

  • Distantly related: Crocodiles and alligators, despite belonging to different families, share the same order Crocodilia and are the only living descendants of the ancient archosaurs along with birds.
  • Similar structures: Crocodiles and alligators share similar physical characteristics, such as a long body, a flat head, short legs, and a powerful tail. Their skin is also covered with bony scutes that offer protection to their vulnerable areas.
  • Similar lifestyle: Crocodiles and alligators are semi-aquatic, spending time both in water and on land. They are capable of swimming slowly or quickly to catch prey. On land, however, they are generally slow and clumsy.

What Gavialidae is

No! What are you doing? You on bright side or the dark side dude. The sharper V shaped one is alligator and the U shaped one is a crocodile.


Another family, Gavialidae, belongs to the order Crocodilia apart from crocodiles and alligators. Unlike crocodiles and alligators, gharials have weak jaws and thin, pointed muzzles, which are useful for fishing, their main diet. However, they are not able to hunt large prey.

The majority of Gavialidae went extinct a long time ago, and only two species remain today: the gharial and the false gharial, both of which are primarily found in South and Southeast Asia.


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