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Difference Between Crocodiles and Alligators

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Crocodiles and alligators are both giant reptiles that belong to the order Crocodylia. However, these two animals are not the same. There are several critical differences between crocodiles and alligators that set them apart.

The main difference between a crocodile and an alligator is that crocodiles are more aggressive and have a more V-shaped head, while alligators have a U-shaped head. Additionally, crocodiles are bigger than alligators and have longer, sharper teeth.

What is a Crocodile?


Crocodiles are large reptiles that live in tropical areas of the world. They are carnivorous predators that can grow to be over 20 feet long. Crocodiles are known for their powerful jaws and sharp teeth. They are also one of the few reptiles that have four functioning limbs.

Crocodiles are native to Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. There are many different species of crocodiles, but the two most common are the American crocodile and the Nile crocodile. The American crocodile is found in southern Florida, while the Nile crocodile is found throughout Africa.

What is an Alligator?


Alligators are large reptiles that live in wetland habitats mainly in the southeastern United States, but also in China. Alligators are members of the crocodilian family, which includes crocodiles, caimans, and gharials.

Alligators are often feared because of their size and power, but they are actually shy creatures that usually avoid contact with humans. However, alligators can be dangerous if they feel threatened or mistake a human for food. If you see an alligator, it is best to stay away!

Differences between Crocodiles and Alligators


Crocodiles can grow much larger than alligators, with some species reaching over 20 feet. On the other hand, alligators tend to top out at around 10 or 12 feet.

This difference in size is due to the different environments these two reptiles inhabit. Crocodiles live in warm, wet areas like swamps and marshes, while alligators are more likely to be found in freshwater lakes and rivers.

The different environmental conditions lead to different growth rates, with crocodiles growing more slowly than alligators. As a result, crocodiles tend to be much larger than alligators when they reach adulthood.


Crocodiles are found in tropical regions such as America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. On the other hand, alligators are only found in the United States (specifically in the southeastern states) and China.


While both crocodiles and alligators are often green in color, there are some significant differences between the two species. Alligators tend to have a darker hue, while crocodiles typically have more olive-toned skin. Additionally, crocodiles often have patterns on their skin that resemble cross-hatching, while alligators generally have a more uniform color.


The head of a crocodile is more pointy, while the alligator's head is more rounded. The difference in the shape of the head is due to the different diets of the two animals.

crocodile vs alligator head
On the left, you can see a crocodile with a V-shaped head, while on the right, you can see the difference with the U-shaped head of the alligator

Crocodiles are more carnivorous than alligators, and their diet includes harder prey items such as turtles and fish. Alligators are more omnivorous, and their diet comprises softer prey such as snails and small mammals.


Alligators tend to be more docile than crocodiles and are less likely to attack humans. However, both animals are apex predators known for their strength and aggression.

Crocodiles swim much faster than alligators in the water and dive to depths of over 20 feet. On the other hand, alligators are better at crawling on land and tend to stay closer to the surface of the water.


Crocodiles live much longer than alligators, with an average lifespan of 60-70 years in the wild, while alligators typically only live for 30-50 years. This difference is mainly due to the fact that crocodiles are more resistant to disease and can better tolerate changes in temperature and habitat.

Biting force

Alligators have a significantly weaker bite than crocodiles due partly to the difference in teeth. Crocodiles have sharp, pointed teeth that are well-suited for tearing flesh, while alligators have flat teeth that are better suited for crushing. In addition, crocodiles have more powerful jaw muscles than alligators, which gives them an even more significant advantage when it comes to biting power. As a result, crocodiles can exert up to two times more pressure with their bite than alligators.

Comparison Table: Crocodiles Vs Alligators

Size18-20 feet10-12 feet
Weight2,200–2,900 lb790-990 lb
LocationLive in fresh and salt waters of America, Africa, Asia, and AustraliaLive in freshwater, marshes, swamps, and lakes of Southeastern United States and China
Shape of the headV-shaped headU-shaped head
ColorOlive-toned skinDarker hue
Lifespan60-70 years30-50 years
Biting force3,700 psi2,125 psi

Similarities Between Crocodiles and Alligators

  • Crocodiles and alligators are both reptiles belonging to the order Crocodylia
  • They are both ambush predators
  • They have a hinged lower jaw
  • They have a long body with short legs
  • They are both ectothermic, meaning they rely on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature
  • They both have a tough, scaly skin
  • Both species are considered to be at risk of extinction due to human activities such as hunting and habitat loss

Frequently Asked Questions

Crocodile Vs Alligator: who would win in a fight?

There are many factors to consider when determining who would win a fight between a crocodile and an alligator. Size is one factor, with crocodiles typically being larger than alligators. Another factor to consider is the biting power of each animal. Crocodiles have much stronger bites than alligators, which could give them an advantage in a fight.

It is difficult to say definitively who would win in a fight between a crocodile and an alligator. However, based on each animal's size and biting power, it is likely that the crocodile would come out victorious.

Do Crocodiles and Alligators attack people?

Crocodiles are known to attack people, while alligators usually shy away from humans.

What do Crocodiles eat?

Crocodiles are carnivores, which means they eat meat. Their diet consists of fish, birds, small mammals, and sometimes other crocodiles.

Crocodiles hunt by lurking in the water and waiting for their prey to come close. When an animal comes within range, the crocodile strikes with its powerful jaws and drags it into the water to drown it. Crocodiles also sometimes eat carrion or dead animals.


Crocodiles and alligators may look similar, but these two reptiles are pretty different. From size and shape to diet and habitat, there are several critical distinctions between crocodiles and alligators. Now that you know more about these two creatures, you'll never mistake one for the other again!

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About the Author: Nicolas Seignette

Nicolas Seignette, who holds a scientific baccalaureate, began his studies in mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences (MIASHS). He then continued his university studies with a DEUST WMI (Webmaster and Internet professions) at the University of Limoges before finishing his course with a professional license specialized in the IT professions. On 10Differences, he is in charge of the research and the writing of the articles concerning technology, sciences and mathematics.
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