American alligators and American crocodiles have a few things in common, the most important being that both creatures strike fear into the hearts of people and small dogs throughout Florida and the Southern United States. Both alligators and crocodiles are some of the most feared and respected predators on earth, both with coveted spots very close to the top of the food chain. There are however, some important differences between the two species.
Crocodiles and alligators are very similar in appearance, but, upon closer inspection, some very subtle physical differences can be detected. The most obvious difference is in the shape of the snout – alligators tend to have wider and rounder snouts, while the snout of a crocodile is longer, leaner, and more pointed. When an alligator is resting with its mouth closed, only the top row of teeth is visible because an alligator’s upper jaw completely covers its lower jaw. With a crocodile, on the other hand, both bottom and top teeth are visible when the mouth is closed. Crocodiles also tend to be more light and green in color, while alligators are darker and more gray.
While it’s easiest to tell American crocodiles and American alligators apart by their appearance, the two species differ most greatly in the behaviors and preferred habitats. Alligators are much more common in Florida and the Everglades, because they prefer the freshwater and brackish consistency that can be found here. Crocodiles prefer saltwater environments, so they are more commonly found in or near the oceans surrounding Florida. While alligators can be aggressive and dangerous, crocodiles are typically docile and shy towards humans. Between 20 and 25 fatal alligator attacks have occurred in Florida over the years, but not one fatal crocodile attack has ever been recorded here.
Airboat rides with Captain Mitch are a fantastic way to see both American alligators and American crocodiles from the safety of a boat. Florida Everglades boat rides are family-friendly and an experience you will never forget.