What’s the Difference Between Alligators and Crocodiles? Many people are unaware that there’s a difference between alligators and crocodiles and use both terms interchangeably to describe any large water-dwelling lizard with big teeth. What they don’t realize is that, despite some similarities, the two reptiles don’t look or behave the same. They also belong to different biological families Differences in Physical characteristics Alligators have a wide “U”-shaped, rounded snout like a shovel, whereas crocodiles tend to have longer and more pointed “V”-shaped noses. In alligators, the upper jaw is wider than the lower jaw and completely overlaps it. Therefore, the teeth in the lower jaw are almost completely hidden when the mouth closes, fitting neatly into small depressions or sockets in the upper jaw. This is called an “overbite”. However, in crocodiles, the upper jaw and lower jaw are approximately the same width, and so teeth in the lower jaw fit along the margin of the upper jaw when the mouth is closed. Therefore, the upper teeth interlock with the lower teeth when the mouth shuts. Crocodiles have a jagged fringe on their hind legs and feet; alligators do not. Alligator have webbed feet; crocodiles do not. The American alligator is the larger of the two species of alligator and typically ranges from 6-12 feet but can grow up to 19 feet. The Chinese alligator is smaller, typically about 5 ft with a maximum length of about 7 ft. Crocodiles are the largest and heaviest of present-day reptiles. The Nile crocodile of Africa and the estuarine crocodile of Australia are the largest species; they can grow up to 20 feet in length and weigh over 1,000 kg. Differences in behavior Differences in behavior are also apparent. Most people regard crocodiles as more aggressive than alligators, and this is true of some species. When cleaning alligator pools, some zookeepers can tread on alligators without eliciting a response, though crocodiles almost invariably react aggressively. Habitat Alligators prefer freshwater while crocodiles can better tolerate brackish water because they have functioning salt glands on their tongue. This allows crocodiles to easily filter out salt. While alligators also have these structures, they appear to have lost the ability to use them for excreting significant amounts of salt and hence preferring to stay in freshwater areas. Today, crocodiles are found in the tropical habitats of Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas. They normally live near lakes, rivers, wetlands and even some saltwater regions. One of the largest known populations of American crocodiles is found in the Dominican Republic’s at a large saltwater lake called Lago Enriquillo. On the other side alligators are found in America and China. If an alligator fought a crocodile, which animal would win? Here I will let you choose! I tend to bet on the power and aggressiveness of the crocodile!