Listen to this article about Crocodiles and Alligators and explore the concept of compare and contrast.
Crocodiles and alligators are large, frightful-looking reptiles. They are classified as reptiles because they have tough, scaly skin and are cold-blooded. This means their body temperatures become warmer as the air temperature rises and colder as the air temperature falls.
Both crocodiles and alligators bury their eggs in sand or mud until their babies hatch. Very young crocodiles and alligators eat worms and insects. Adults eat mammals and are even known to attack humans.
Crocodiles and alligators swim by sweeping their tails from side to side in the water. Because they need air to breathe, the tips of their noses and their eyes can always be seen outside of the water.
How can you tell a crocodile apart from an alligator?
The main difference is that a crocodile has a narrow snout that comes to a point at the tip, and the fourth lower tooth is always visible even when the crocodile’s mouth is closed. An alligator, on the other hand, has a broad, blunt snout. Its fourth lower tooth cannot be seen when the alligator’s mouth is closed.
Another difference between crocodiles and alligators is their habitat. Crocodiles are found near swamps, lakes and rivers in the tropical areas of Africa, Australia, Asia, Madagascar, and South America. Alligators are only found in two freshwater locations: The American Alligator can be found in the southeastern United States from North Carolina to Florida and west to Texas. The Chinese Alligator lives in the Yangtze River Valley in China.
In addition, alligators are less aggressive and move more slowly than crocodiles. They are also not as large. Crocodiles are known to have grown as long as 23 feet. Alligators grow to be about 15 feet long.
Here are some questions to ask about the article:
What do crocodiles and alligators have in common?
How are crocodiles and alligators different?
What do both crocodiles and alligators do with their eggs?
Why are crocodiles and alligators classified as reptiles?
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Alligators and Crocodiles
Back to AnimalsAlligators 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.
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.
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
- They have great senses including excellent hearing, eyesight, and sense of smell.
- They can hold their breath for nearly an hour.
- They are one of the few reptiles that take care of their young after they hatch from their eggs.
- Sometimes young crocs will ride on their mother's back or even hide from predators in her mouth.
- They spend much of their time in the water.
- Some crocodiles species are on the endangered list.
For more about reptiles and amphibians:
Alligators and Crocodiles
Eastern Diamondback Rattler
Colorado River Toad
Gold Poison Dart Frog
Back to Reptiles
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