Among the main differences between alligators and crocodiles, the muzzle shape, teeth and size stand out.Many people find it difficult to differentiate a crocodile from an alligator. These reptiles , which are usually found near aquatic environments, have many characteristics in common. However, a few small details can help differentiate.
First of all, we must highlight that crocodiles and alligators are from different families. The first is part of the Crocodilidae family, which has 15 different species, while alligators belong to the Alligatoridae family, which has nine distinct species. In our country only alligators are found.
To differentiate an alligator from a crocodile, we can start by looking at the shape of the animal’s snout. Alligators have a broader and rounder snout than that of crocodiles, which have this tapered structure. In addition to this characteristic, crocodiles are more active than alligators and also larger in length. While the largest species of alligator (Jacaré-açu) reaches about 5.5 meters in length, some crocodiles reach more than eight meters.
Another important point concerns the teeth of these two animals. By observing a crocodile, we can see, even if the animal has its mouth closed, the fourth tooth of the lower jaw. In alligators, however, this tooth is hidden when the reptile is not with its mouth open.
See a chart representing these differences:
|Family Alligatoridae||Family Crocodilidae|
|Rounded snout||Tapered snout|
|When the animal has its mouth closed, the fourth tooth of the lower jaw is not exposed.||The fourth tooth of the lower jaw is exposed even when the animal has its mouth closed.|
|Usually smaller than crocodiles.||Usually larger than alligators.|