<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1238430469538210&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

A Florida Mystery: Distinguishing Between Alligators and Crocodiles

Florida is primarily known for three things: its beaches, amazing theme parks, airboats and alligators. From people keeping them as pets to Godzilla's distant cousins teeing off on the golf course, you can find a Florida alligator pretty much anywhere. 

But many people who visit Florida are surprised to discover that they aren't the only crocodilian species living in the Sunshine State. For example, southern Florida is one of the few places on Earth where saltwater crocodiles and alligators can coexist. This is because of the freshwater streams flowing out into the ocean. This blog will explain three main differences between alligators and crocodiles. It will help you easily identify them during an airboat tour in Florida.


Gators sun bath in the sun at Wild Florida

The shape of the jaw

If you happen to find yourself face to face with a crocodile and an alligator, they might look the same at first glance. They have their toothy, scary grins and rough, bumpy skin. However, if you look closely at their faces, you'll notice that their snouts don't look identical. 

Unlike alligators, whose snouts are wider and have a U-shaped look, crocodiles have a more pointed, v-shaped snout. While there is no known reason why their snouts are different, their snout shapes give them each advantage. 

With a wider jaw, American alligators are able to get a better grip on bigger, bulkier prey such as turtles or small mammals. But that's not to say that a crocodile's bite is any less powerful. In fact, the Nile crocodile has been recorded as having the strongest animal bite at over 5,000 psi. Facts like these make us glad we can see them at a safe distance from an airboat ride in Florida. 

Want to see real, wild alligators in Florida? Book your Florida airboat tour now!

An adult alligator sits in the sun at Wild Florida

Placement of teeth

When looking at an alligator and crocodile, you'll notice that the alligator's top teeth are visible, while the crocodile's teeth seem interlaced with one another. This is because of their jaw shape and length. 

Alligators' upper jaw is wider than their lower jaw, so their lower teeth disappear behind their top teeth when they close their mouths. However, for crocodiles, since their upper and lower jaws are about the same width, their lower and upper teeth are able to interlock with one another when their mouths are shut (giving off a pretty scary smile if you ask us!)

Behavioral differences

Similar to breeds of dogs, different species of crocodilians have different temperaments (just don't expect a crocodile or alligator to come up to you with a wagging tail!). Despite their scary looks and what you may hear, alligators are, for the most part, very laid-back and generally will only attack when provoked. 

However, while crocodiles may not necessarily run up and attack you, one could say their snapping point is a little bit shorter than that of an alligator, and they might be more prone to bite than to run away. Our croc squad spends a lot of time with these magnificent animals and shows you some of the learned behaviors from alligators and crocodiles during one of our shows! 

Want to see a Florida alligator in the wild and learn so much more about their natural habitat? Reserve a spot on an airboat tour and learn firsthand from our master captions. Or check out our Gator Park and learn from the one and only Croc Squad. Plan your adventure now at wild florida

sign up for our newsletter