What is the difference between a crocodile and an alligator?

Like ostrich and emus, people often question what the difference is between crocodiles and alligators. They’re incredibly similar-looking creatures but we promise that if you think you’ve spotted an alligator in Kakadu, you’ll quickly be corrected.

Alligators in Kakadu

First thing first, there are no alligators in Kakadu. There are no alligators in Australia, only crocodiles. They can live in either fresh or saltwater and are found across much of the top coast of Australia. Both fresh and saltwater crocodiles live throughout Kakadu National Park, so if you do happen to see one, be sure to ask your guide about which species it may be.

Differences between Alligator and Crocodile

Alligators and crocodiles are closely related, this explains why they look so similar. The large reptiles have many similarities, but their differences can be quite glaring when you know what to look for. Just, maybe don’t use your new skills out in the wild. We’d much rather you didn’t get eaten by a large reptile.

  • Location

    One of the easiest ways to identify a crocodile or alligator is your location. Alligators are only found in the United States and China, so unless you’re in a zoo or those countries, you can almost guarantee you’re looking at a crocodile.

  • Physical appearance

    Crocodiles and alligators can be easily distinguished by looking at their physical attributes if you know what to search for.

    Crocodiles are the larger species and fully-grown will be up to a metre longer than even large alligators. They are also a lighter colour and have long, v-shaped snouts. This v-shaped snout also gives crocodiles a rather toothy grin. In fact, crocodiles are unable to close their long snouts to hide their teeth.

    Additionally, crocodiles are slower than alligators. While we don’t recommend getting into a running race with either animal, crocodiles larger size makes them somewhat slower.

  • Similarities

    Besides all of their clear differences, these prehistoric beasts also have several similarities.

    The large reptiles have physical similarities, such as their webbed feet which help them glide through water easily. They are also cold-blooded, meaning they do not generate body heat and can spend long periods of time submerged in cold water without repercussion.

    Both animals lay eggs and both are strictly carnivorous, each hunting both in the water and on the land surrounding their marshy homes. Strong tails help to propel both creatures through the water, providing them with great speed and control of their movement. They may also opt to use their tail as part of their defence mechanism if they feel challenged or attacked.

Related article: Quick Facts About Saltwater Crocodiles