Do you comprehend the distinction between an alligator and a crocodile? Most people are clueless, but there is a notable variation!

Alligators and crocodiles are dragons’ closest living relatives. They have been around for nearly 80 million years. Since then, these living organisms haven’t changed much regarding their appearance or personality traits.

So, who is the stronger of the two? Let’s look at the variations between alligators and crocodiles and facts about social structure and mating in the two species!

Table of Contents

Classification: Crocodile Vs. Alligator

Taxonomy Alligator
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Crocodylia
Family: Alligatoridae
Subfamily: Alligatorinae
Genus: Alligator
Taxonomy Crocodile
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Crocodylia
Family: Crocodylidae
Subfamily: Crocodylinae
Genus: Crocodylus

Habitat: Crocodile Vs. Alligator

Crocodiles and alligators can be found in both freshwater and saltwater. Freshwater, however, is preferred more by alligators. They live in rivers, marshes, wetlands, and lagoons. They lack salt glands and thus cannot tolerate saltwater for extended periods.

We can find alligators in eastern China and the southeastern United States. The American alligator is mainly found in Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, the Carolinas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

Crocodiles can be found near rivers, ponds, and waterways, but they can also be found at sea. Southeast Asia, northern Australia, and eastern India are home to them. Crocodiles are found throughout Africa, Australia, Southeast Asia, and the Americas, and the southernmost tip of Florida is home to an American crocodile.

Size: Crocodile Vs. Alligator

The American alligator can grow up to 19 feet long, whereas the Chinese alligator is relatively small, reaching a maximum length of about 7 feet.

Crocodiles, on the other hand, are the largest and heaviest living reptiles. The Nile crocodile of Africa and the estuarine (or saltwater) crocodile of Australia are the largest species, reaching lengths of 20 feet and weighing over 1,000 kilograms (about 2,200 pounds).

The seamless caiman (Paleosuchus) and the dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis) are the smallest species, reaching about 6 feet long as adults.

Color: Crocodile Vs. Alligator

Coloration is one of the quickest ways to tell the differences between alligators and crocodiles. Crocodiles come in a wide range of colors, such as green, grey, brown, and black. They usually have an irregular or studded aesthetic to blend in with the phytoplankton and surface.

Crocodiles are usually slate grey with a white to yellow underbelly. This dark and light color is referred to as countershading. It allows them to harmonize with the water while hunting. Other crocodile breeds are colored differently depending on their surroundings.

Alligators are typically dark green to black. The American alligator is a glistening dark green that makes it appear well, almost black, under certain lighting conditions. Its color is significantly darker than that of a crocodile. Their colors will change depending on their surroundings, similar to a crocodile’s.

Crocodiles favor open-water environments with a high concentration of algae. As a result, greener tints are commonly available to cohere. Alligators prefer to congregate near rivers and lakes whose colors blend in with the mud and the environmental elements.

Snout: Crocodile Vs. Alligator

The snout of these gigantic reptiles is the most distinguishing feature that allows the majority of the population to tell whether it is an alligator or a crocodile. Alligators have broad, rounded snouts that allow them to smash their bait.

The u-shaped snout allows them to conceal their teeth in their jaws, allowing the American alligator to remain hidden in murky water.

A crocodile is distinguished from an alligator by its pointed, narrow v-shaped snout. The Indian Mugger Crocodile, on the other hand, makes an exception with a shorter and wider jaw.

Teeth: Crocodile Vs. Alligator

When their jaws are shut, the difference between alligators and crocodiles is easily distinguished because the alligator’s bottom teeth are never visible. In contrast, the crocodile’s lower fourth teeth are always noticeable.

Alligators have a broad upper jaw and a narrower lower jaw. As a result, the bottom jaw’s teeth integrate into the upper jaw’s small sockets. And, when the jaw is closed, the large fourth tooth is concealed.

Crocodiles, on the other hand, have jaws that are similar in size and weight, and both the top and bottom teeth are intertwined. Crocodiles frequently have many visible teeth protruding from their mouth, giving them a rough smile.

Tails, Legs, and Feet: Crocodile Vs. Alligator

Other physiological variations between alligators and crocodiles include their tails, legs, and feet. The bony external scales known as scutes are present in alligators and crocodiles. But compared to alligators, crocodiles have longer and more defined scutes.

Alligators’ hind feet and legs lack the choppy fringe present in crocodiles. And unlike crocodiles, alligators have webbed front feet (both have webbed back feet).

Behavior: Crocodile Vs. Alligator

Alligators are not typically thought of as being as aggressive and combative as crocodiles. Even though you should never approach either animal, alligators are typically less aggressive than crocodiles, only biting when triggered or needing food.

Alligators love to soak up the sun or lounge on the river banks or in the mud near the water. It is worth noting, however, that they can lose their reason to be afraid if they are constantly around them or if they begin to be nourished by them.

Crocodiles have been known to strike simply because someone or something is nearby; crocodiles are more energetic in the water. More enormous crocodiles, such as the Nile and Saltie, are notorious for attacking humans.

Crocs are proactive predators that attack anything moving; hungry ones will not stop attacking a human who approaches too closely.

Social Structure And Reproduction: Crocodile Vs. Alligator

Crocodiles and alligators are social creatures with complex power structures in their respective water bodies.

Although little is known about social hierarchies, Australian researchers claim alpha crocodiles safeguard territories with females nearby. At the same time, subdominant males are pushed into areas much farther away from female communities.

Although both crocodiles and alligators lay eggs, their nests are different. Alligators frequently use the vegetation around them to build nest mounds. The plant material decaying keeps the evolving eggs comfortable and warm.

Crocodiles prefer warmer climates than alligators and build their nests in sand or dirt along riverbeds, often near brackish water.

The frequency and seasonal reproduction patterns vary by species; however, alligators and crocodiles typically breed and lay eggs yearly (sometimes once every two years).

A high percentage of female alligators will mate with the same male alligators for the rest of their lives. On the other side, fresh batches of crocodile babies typically come from multiple companions.

Lifespan: Crocodile Vs. Alligator

Alligators and crocodiles that reach adulthood are highly likely to live for a long time. After all, they are at the highest level of the food chain and are challenging to kill in the animal world. Alligators can survive for 20 to 60 years on average. Now that’s a lot of time spent hunting food sources in puddles!

Crocodiles can live up to 70 years, slightly longer-lived than alligators, and grow to enormous sizes and shapes, making them pertinent predators in a given area.

Which One Is Stronger? Crocodile Vs. Alligator


In a fight between the two reptiles, the crocodile would succeed. Although the alligator is quicker, the crocodile would win for the following reasons:

  • Crocodiles tend to be larger and bulkier.
  • Because of their size and strength, crocs have more fatal bites.
  • In general, crocodiles are far more dangerous than alligators.

Alligators usually go their own way and avoid humans unless they guard a nest. The crocodile, on the other hand, will attack for no explicable reason. How pissy!

You should now easily distinguish between an alligator and a crocodile. The most important fact is that alligators and crocodiles are two distinct species. They are distinguished by their jaws’ shape, size, and color.

Commonly Asked Questions

Can Alligators And Crocodiles Copulate?

Certainly not! Crocodiles and alligators cannot copulate. Although they appear to be genetically similar, they are not. Although both crocodiles and alligators are members of the order Crocodilia, they split into distinct genera long ago.

Which One Is Faster Among Alligators And Crocodiles?

A saltwater crocodile, the fastest of all, glides at speeds ranging from 15 to 18 miles per hour, whereas American alligators are faster in the water, with a speed of 20mph. Their bodies aren’t built for running on land, so while they can run super quickly in small intervals, they can’t maintain that speed. Saltwater crocodile was found running at 12 m/s, equating to nearly 27 mph.

Which are more dangerous to humans?

According to CrocBITE, a database that tracks crocodilian attacks worldwide, humans should be most worried about the Nile crocodile. There have been a total of 33 deaths caused by American alligators and crocodiles combined since the year 2000, in comparison to 268 caused by Nile crocodiles alone.

(Last Updated on November 23, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on various topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. Her life’s mission is to make the world a better place for all beings.