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Alligators and Crocodiles

Head of American alligator
Source: USFWS

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Alligators and crocodiles are reptiles. This means they are cold-blooded and have to regulate their body temperature with their surroundings. Alligators do this by cooling off in the shade or the water and warming up in the sun. Alligators and crocodiles, like most reptiles, also lay eggs and their skin is covered with hard, dry scales.

Sometimes alligators are called gators for short and sometimes crocodiles are called crocs for short.

What is the difference between an alligator and a crocodile?

You can tell alligators and crocodiles apart mostly by the width of their snout. An Alligator will have a wide, broad nose while a crocodile will usually have a narrow nose. Alligators are generally darker in color as well.

Alligators live near fresh water environments. There are only two kinds of alligators (the American Alligator and the Chinese Alligator) and only two countries in the world where alligators can be found: China and the United States. Alligators in the US are found in the southeast, mostly in Florida and Louisiana.

American Crocodile
Source: USFWS
Crocodiles are more widespread being found in the tropics in Asia, America, Africa, and Australia. There are crocodiles that live in saltwater as well as fresh water.

How fast are they?

Crocodiles and Alligators are prolific swimmers. They can swim very fast. They appear to be slow out of water as they lay still for hours in the sun and may only move slowly every once in a while. But don't let this fool you. An attacking gator or croc can move extremely fast over short distances. They can move much faster than a human can run. These animals are very dangerous and are one the most dangerous animals to humans.

How big do they get?

Alligators and crocodiles can grow quite large. The largest recorded alligator is 19 feet long while the largest crocodile is estimated to be close to 28 feet long.

American Alligator Walking
Source: USFWS
What do they eat?

Alligators and crocs are carnivores meaning they eat meat. They will kill and eat pretty much anything they can catch. This includes fish, deer, frogs, birds, and buffalo, just to name a few. Despite all their sharp teeth, they don't chew their food. They use their teeth to tear off chunks and swallow them whole.

Fun Facts About Alligators and Crocodiles

For more about reptiles and amphibians:

Alligators and Crocodiles
Eastern Diamondback Rattler
Green Anaconda
Green Iguana
King Cobra
Komodo Dragon
Sea Turtle

American Bullfrog
Colorado River Toad
Gold Poison Dart Frog
Red Salamander

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