Spot the difference: Here’s how to tell an alligator from a crocodile

See you later, alligator! After a while, crocodile!

American crocodile (bottom) and American alligator (top) (Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Monday, June 17 is World Crocodile Day. Although crocodiles aren’t as commonly seen as alligators, they can still be found in Florida.

From afar, it can prove challenging to tell the difference between crocodiles and alligators. So, how can you identify the two? We are here to help!

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Crocodiles have angular v-shaped snouts, and their lower teeth are exposed when their mouths are closed. Alligator snouts have rounded U-shaped snouts, with few exposed teeth. Nile crocs are usually bronze or brownish yellow; alligators are blackish green. Also, alligators prefer freshwater habitats, while crocodiles can handle fresh and saltwater.

Related: WILD VIDEO: Florida man uses bare hands to remove 8-foot gator from busy road

Florida (Everglades National Park) is the only place in the world where you can find alligators and crocodiles living together in the wild, FWC reports. Below are more helpful differences between the two (table from FWC).

Grayish green colorBlack in color
Fourth tooth on lower jaw exposed when mouth is closedOnly upper teeth exposed when mouth is closed
Narrow tapered snoutBroad rounded snout
Young are light with dark stripesYoung are dark with yellow stripes

Crocodiles (FWC)

In 2023, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimated that the number of adult Florida crocodiles had increased to as many as 1,500 to 2,000, rebounding from an estimated 300 in 1975.

Listed as an endangered species in 1975, crocodile numbers have since recovered from a few hundred individuals to as many as 2,000 adult crocodiles today. The Florida population of this native species is now classified as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Siamese crocodile are seen at Siracha Moda Farm in Chonburi province, eastern Thailand on Nov. 7, 2022. Crocodile farmers in Thailand are suggesting a novel approach to saving the countrys dwindling number of endangered wild crocodiles. They want to relax regulations on cross-border trade of the reptiles and their parts to boost demand for products made from ones raised in captivity. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Alligators (FWC)

According to the FWC, there are an estimated 1.3 million alligators in Florida, and they can be found in all 67 counties. The FWC also noted that most alligators can be found in wetlands, such as lakes or rivers, where there is adequate food and shelter.

Female alligators usually don’t grow longer than 10 feet, while males can reach much larger lengths. The Florida state record for length is a 14 foot 3-1/2 inch male from Lake Washington in Brevard County, according to FWC. The Florida record for weight is a 1,043-pound (13 feet 10-1/2 inches long) male from Orange Lake in Alachua County.

Alligators (Graham Media)

Next time you spot one, remember these tips to impress your friends!

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