What’s Bigger Crocodile Or Alligator?

Who is Older than Whom? Do they have the Same Color? Are they Identical? Who can Survive Cold? Which one has more Species?

Crocodiles and Alligators are often confused as they look alike. They do belong to the reptile family but have many differences. People often wonder that when compared, what’s bigger crocodile or alligator. In this article, we will explain in detail how alligator compared to crocodile is different. Also, we will cover the feature of crocodile compared to alligator.

1. How Alligator Compared to Crocodile is Older?

  • There is no such original date as discovered by researchers. According to the fossil of Sarcosuchus, researchers concluded that it is 110 million years old, which makes it the first land Crocodile.  In comparison, the discovered fossils of crocodiles are older than those of alligators. What’s bigger crocodile or alligator has nothing to do with its discovery. Also, check out the oldest living species alive today.
  • Their history is even more ancient because there exist traces of their ancestors from the Jurassic Period dwelling in water bodies. They were aquatic crocodiles that lived around 200 million years ago. They were named Thalattosuchia.
  • The traces of alligators have been from the Cretaceous and late Cretaceous periods. Their ancestors were Mourasuchus and Deinosuchus. (Also read What Was Before Dinosaurs?)

2. How the Color of Crocodile compared to Alligator is Different?

They appear identical but have noticeable color differences which have no relation to the fact of what’s bigger crocodile or alligator. In comparison, alligators are darker than crocodiles.

  • Crocodiles have green, grey, brown, and black skin. Some have dark brown markings on their back and feet. They have a scaly or mottled pattern over their back to help them camouflage with algae while hunting. A species of crocodile called the American crocodile is light grey colored and has a white underside.
  • The alligators are usually black or green. American alligators are shiny green but appear black because of the color and light around them. Depending upon the living conditions of river banks and lakeshore, they are dark-colored to mix better with the surroundings. (Also read Do Penguins Have Knees?)

3. What is the Difference in their Snouts?

The snout is the type of facial shape these reptiles have. To distinguish them easily, take a look at their snouts. A crocodile always has a V-shaped snout. All the species have this kind of pointed snout with their teeth visible even when the jaw is closed. Their bottom teeth are always visible when their jaw is shut.

An alligator has a U-spaced snout that is rounded, short and wide. Their jaw is always close and you can only see their upper teeth. Their bottom teeth hide when their jaw is closed. So, you can also identify them by the visibility of their teeth. (Also read What is the Difference between Possum and Raccoon?)

4. What’s Bigger Crocodile or Alligator?

Another parameter to identify these reptiles is their size but measuring them from a distance can be difficult.

  • In answer to what’s bigger crocodile or alligator, it is the crocodiles which are usually larger than alligators and their saltwater species is the largest in the world. They reach a length of 23 feet when fully grown. American crocodiles can reach 20 feet but most are 15 to 17 feet only. They weigh between 362 kg to 453 kg (800 to 1000 pounds).
  • On the other hand, the average size of a male alligator is between 12 to 13 feet while a female is only 8 to 10 feet long. Their weight is also less than crocs. Male alligators weigh around 453 kg (1000 pounds) and females can weigh between 226 kg to 317 kg (500 to 700 pounds).
  • In comparison, an American crocodile can be 4 to 6 feet longer than an alligator. (Also read 7 Chupacabra Animal Facts)

5. What is their Unique Skin Feature?

  • They have a similar type of scaly skin consisting of dome receptors which help them regulate water pressure and detect ripples while swimming.
  • These receptors are scattered over the entire body of crocodiles. They are colorless or translucent and their equal distribution over their body makes them better swimmers than alligators.
  • Crocodiles also have salt glands that maintain salt levels in their body when they are in saltwater. This process of controlling body salinity is known as osmoregulation.
  • The dome receptors on the body of alligators are visible near their jaw because they are black-colored. They don’t have any salt glands. (Also read Why Are Cats Tongue So Rough?)

6. Which one has a More Powerful Bite?

Both the reptiles are among the fiercest predators in the animal kingdom. Their bites can tear off flesh from bodies comfortably.

  • Crocodiles have the most powerful bite in the entire animal kingdom. Their teeth are strong, sharp, and pointed for tearing their prey. Their bite strength is almost 3700 pounds per square inch (psi) which is stronger than a shark’s bite. 
  • While alligators have conical teeth meant to crush their prey and their bite strength is almost 2500 pounds per square inch (psi). What’s bigger crocodile or alligator also supports the idea behind this point as the crocodile is comparatively bigger and also has a stronger bite. (See What Are Shark Teeth Made Of?)

7. Who can Survive in Colder Regions easily?

They both are found near water bodies and are cold-blooded.

  • Crocodiles live near rivers, marshes, wetlands, etc. but can also survive in saltwater lakes. They cannot live in cold water and need a temperature between 29 to 33 degrees Celsius (85 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit). Their average lifespan is 70-100 years.
  • Alligators cannot survive in salty waters and are seen in swamplands and lakes. They thrive in colder temperatures and can easily survive in a region with a temperature of 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit). They can live up to 30-50 years.

If you ever find a reptile in cold waters then it is likely an alligator and not a crocodile and this comparison is not related to what’s bigger crocodile or alligator. (Also read What are the Names of Coldest Places on Earth?)

8. Which One has more Species?

Both alligators and crocodiles are from the same order known as Crocodilia but not the same family. This order also includes gharials and caimans. There are a total of 13 species of crocodiles. Most of them are in India, Africa, the United States, Southeast Asia, and Australia. Alligators have only two species in their family. In comparison, there are more crocodiles on earth than alligators. (Also read 6 Stork Delivery Facts)

9. What is the Difference in Their Attacking Behavior?

Well, both are equally dangerous if disturbed. Crocodiles are more aggressive towards humans. There are over 1000 reported cases of crocodiles attacking humans. Large species like Nile and Saltwater crocodiles have the most recorded human attacks.

Alligators are rather afraid of humans but they can also attack if disturbed. They also attack if they sense any danger to their eggs or young ones. The reported cases of alligators attacking humans are 6% less than crocodile attacks. (See How Fast Are Crocodiles on Land?)

10. Are they Identical?

Some of their similarities are as follows:

  • They are cold-blooded reptiles and have tough-scaly skin.
  • They cannot regulate body temperature and depend on external heat sources.
  • They are fast swimmers and eat aquatic animals.
  • They drag their prey inside water, kill it and swallow it in big pieces or whole. (See 8 Tame Wolf Facts)

We have comprehensively answered what’s bigger crocodile or alligator and also introduced you to their world of similarities and differences. Hopefully, your confusion about them is over. (See 21 Healthiest Fish for Fishetarians

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