Difference Between Crocodiles and Alligators


Main Difference

Animals are of interest to everyone. People who visit zoos or watch TV channels such as National Geographic develop the need to find more about the creatures they see behind the bars on television screens. Alligators and Crocodiles are two species which have been deemed similar for a long while before the actual differences between them were known to humans. The question about crocodiles and their types arise very often. There are many dissimilarities among these two animals, and they will be discussed in detail to give a general idea of how they are separated from each other. By their classification, it can be concurred that they both belong from different families. There are three main types of animals which are categorized according to the differences, and they are called alligatorids, Crocodylidae, and Gavialidae. The alligators belong to the first family while crocodiles belong to the second family. Based on their physical appearance it is easy to find the difference between them. By looking at their noses it can be differentiated easily, for example, an alligator has a rounded nose which gives the impression of alphabet U while crocodiles have a long triangular nose which gives the idea of alphabet V when careful consideration is given. The round nose of alligators helps them to withstand pressure and load, it also makes it easier for them to chew their food. Conversely, for crocodiles their pointed noses don’t give them enough strength as compared to alligators but still helps them to bite their prey. Another difference between these two large animals is their teeth. In the case of alligators, they have different jaw sizes, the upper jaw takes over the lower jaw and is bigger in size as compared to the lower one. For crocodiles, the upper and bottom jaws are almost the same sizes so they can easily place their teeth between each other. Another main difference is that crocodiles are less hostile while alligators are considered peaceful creatures. Crocodiles have salt glands on their tongue which help them to digest food and manage secretions which are not present in alligators. Both of them also have sensing organs, but they have different placement. There are many more differences too, which can be written down. Details of both these types are presented in the next two paragraphs.

Comparison Chart

More abundantly found in Africa.Found in the coastal areas of America
Life Span
Have a longer life span of 100 yearsHave a life span of 50 years
Jaw Position
Jaw which is triangular in shape and looks like VHave jaws which are round in texture and seem like a U.

Definiiton of Crocodile

Crocodiles belong to the family of crocodilians and are subcategorized as Crocodylidae. They are found mostly in Africa and some parts of Australia while having a presence in America as well. Crocodiles prefer living in areas which are warmer and have a preference for sea and rivers. The main way of finding out a crocodile is looking at its nose which is shaped like the alphabet V and has jaws which are equal in size and that helps them in biting at their prey. Usually, they are considered dangerous but in truth, they are the least vulnerable among their family. Since they are carnivores they prefer eating the meat of different animals and even human beings. They are found in distinct colors of brown and greenish-brown and are found to be lazy. They have an age span of 70-100 years and can survive without food for a long time because of their less movement. They are found in different sizes. The smallest one can be larger than 1 meter while the biggest one can be as long as 6 meters and weigh around 900 kilos.


Definiiton of Alligator

Alligators belong to the same family as crocodiles but belong to a different subgroup known as Alligatoridae. They are mostly found in the United States’s coastal regions of the south and are black in color. Their distinguishing feature is that they have a rounded nose which looks like the alphabet U. Their life spans are shorter than other in their family and can live as long as 50 years. They have a broad upper jaw which is bigger than the lower one, therefore, overshadows the one beneath it. They can withstand larger pressures and can easily swallow their prey with the help of their mouth. They feed on meat but can also consume some other types of food. They are smaller in size as compared to other and can be as long as 3.5 meters at most. They way considerably less too and can be as healthy as 500 kg. They prefer living in a bunch and are mostly found in the sunny areas along with others.

Differences in a Nutshell

  1. The main difference between crocodiles and alligators is that they belong to different scientific families, Crocodylidae, and Alligatoridae respectively.
  2. They also differ in their colors; crocodiles are blackish gray in color while alligators are brownish in color.
  3. Alligators are more hostile as compared to crocodiles, which is against the usual
  4. Salt glands in crocodile function properly but the salt glands in alligators do not work.
  5. Both have different forms of sensory organs on their bodies.
  6. Crocodiles have a jaw which is triangular in shape and looks like V, but alligators have jaws which are round in texture and seem like a U.
  7. Crocodiles have the same upper and lower jaw sizes while alligators have a bigger upper jaw and smaller lower jaw.
  8. Crocodiles prefer living in healthy waters such as sea or rivers while alligators prefer living in salt waters and even oceans.
  9. Alligators are found in the coastal areas of America while crocodiles are more abundantly found in Africa.
  10. Crocodiles have a longer life span as compared to alligators which are 100 years to 50 years respectively.


These two terms have been confused with each other and the reasons for that might be legitimate as they both look like each other. But still there are many differences between them which can be explained here in a proper way so that readers can know what exactly are the differences between them and what is common thing among the two species.

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss