Kruger National Park

Crocodile and Alligator: What Is the Difference?

Snout shape

The alligator’s snout is broader and U-shaped, while the crocodile’s is longer and points to form a V-shape.  The alligator’s jaws are also more powerful than the crocodile. The reason for this is because crocodile is suited for hunting whereas the alligator is better at breaking things open, like turtle shells.

Toothy grin (or lack of):

The alligator’s upper jaw is wider than its lower jaw and overlaps it. This means that the teeth in the lower jaw cannot be seen and are neatly stored into the gator’s sockets in his upper jaw.

Crocodile jaws are roughly the same size and the upper and lower teeth interlock, therefore the croc’s large fourth tooth of the lower jaw is always visible.

Saltwater and Freshwater

Crocodiles have distinct glands in their tongues that are responsible for excreting excess salt from their bodies. This makes them capable of spending long periods of time at sea, brackish water and fresh water. This explains why crocodiles have spread to the islands of the Caribbean.

Alligators also have these glands but they don’t work properly when compared to the croc’s. Therefore, alligators are found in freshwater habitats but exceptions can be made for brackish water.

Quick Differences

  • Alligators are a blackish grey colour and crocodiles are an olive green/brown colour (depending on the species and quality of the water).
  • Alligators are less aggressive than crocodiles.
  • Alligators are found in Southern U.S. and China whereas crocodiles are primarily found in Africa, Australia, and America.
  • Crocodiles are larger than alligators.
  • Crocodiles live significantly longer than alligators (30 – 50 years compared to 70 -100 years)
  • You see crocodiles in a while and alligators later.


Written by Tersha van Staden