Crocodiles and alligators are almost the most ancient inhabitants of our planet, and, according to many scientists, their age exceeds even the period of life of dinosaurs. In everyday speech, the names of these two animals are very often confused, which is due to the characteristic external similarity. Nevertheless, alligators and crocodiles, belonging to the order of Crocodylia, have a lot of significant differences, in which it is sometimes quite difficult for the average man to figure out on their own.
Comparison in appearance
The main difference between the alligator and other representatives belonging to the order of crocodiles is a wider muzzle and dorsal eye position. Coloring of the crocodile and alligator varies slightly depending on the species and habitat. Compared with a real crocodile, especially a member of the Crocodylus genus, only the upper teeth can be seen with the jaw closed in the alligator.
Some individuals have deformed teeth, which can create certain difficulties in the identification process. Large alligators are characterized by eyes that have a red glow. Small individuals of this kind of reptiles are distinguished by a rather bright green glare, which allows the alligator to be detected even in the dark.
Crocodiles have a sharper and so-called V-shaped muzzle, and the characteristic difference is the presence of a very peculiar bite at the closing of the jaws. When the crocodile's mouth is closed, the teeth on both jaws are clearly visible, but the canines of the lower jaw are particularly noticeable. The surface of the body of a crocodile is covered with relatively small specks of black coloring, which serve as a kind of "motor sensors".
With the help of such a special structure, the adjacent can easily catch even the slightest movement of its prey. Alligator sensory organs are located only in the muzzle. Among other things, the average length of the alligator's body, as a rule, is noticeably shorter than the body size of other representatives of the order of crocodiles.
Habitat is a very important factor that allows for the proper distinction of all species. Alligators are common in freshwater reservoirs located in China and in North America.
It is interesting! Many representatives of the crocodile genus are able to live not only in fresh water, but also in salt water bodies.
This feature is associated with the presence in the mouth of the crocodile special glands responsible for the rapid elimination of excess salt. Alligators dig holes that allows you to create small ponds, which later become the main habitat of fish and water for other animals or birds.
Crocodile and alligator lifestyle
Large alligator males prefer to lead a solitary lifestyle, and also strictly adhere to their strictly established territory. Relatively large groups are characteristic for smaller individuals.. Adult males and females are always very actively protecting their territory. Young alligators are notable for their tolerance towards congeners of the same size.
It is interesting! Alligators, having a sufficiently large weight and slow metabolic processes, are able to develop a decent speed at short swim distances.
Crocodiles move in the water using the tail section. As well as alligators, on land, these reptiles are distinguished by some slowness and even clumsiness, but, if necessary, they are able to move significantly away from the reservoir. In the process of rapid movement, the crocodiles reptile from the troop always put wide-set limbs under the body.
The sounds that crocodiles and alligators make are something between a roar and a bark. The behavior of reptiles in the period of active reproduction becomes especially loud.
Representatives of the squad of crocodiles grow throughout their lives. This feature is due to the presence of constantly growing cartilaginous sites located in the bone tissue. Small species reach sexual maturity at the age of four. Large species become sexually mature at about the tenth year of life.
Unlike crocodiles, puberty of any kind of alligator largely depends on the size of the individual, and not on its age. Mississippi alligators become sexually mature after the body length exceeds 180 cm. Smaller in size, the Chinese alligators begin to mate after the body reaches one meter in length.
Depending on habitat conditions and species characteristics, the average life expectancy can vary from 70-100 years. As a rule, completely adult, mature individuals of the largest species of crocodiles and alligators do not have expressed enemies in natural habitats..
However, many animals, including monitor lizards, turtles, carnivorous mammals and some species of birds, actively eat not only eggs laid by crocodiles and alligators, but also very small, recently born reptiles of this order.
What is different food crocodile and alligator
The reptiles of these species spend much of their time in the aquatic environment, and on the coastal beach they are selected early in the morning or closer to twilight. Representatives of a squad of crocodiles hunt their prey at night. The diet is largely represented by fish, but any prey that the reptile can handle can be eaten. The young individuals use various invertebrates as food, including insects, crustaceans, mollusks, and worms.
More adult individuals hunt fish, amphibians, reptiles, and water birds. Large alligators and crocodiles, as a rule, easily cope with large enough mammals. Many species of crocodiles are characterized by cannibalism, which consists in devouring the largest individuals from the order of crocodiles to smaller representatives of the genus. Very often, both crocodiles and alligators eat carrion and semi-decomposed prey..
Conclusions and Conclusion
Despite the apparent resemblance, it is almost impossible to confuse the crocodile and alligator on closer examination:
- alligators are usually smaller than crocodiles,
- crocodiles have a narrow and long muzzle, while alligators have a flattened and blunt shape,
- crocodiles are more common and now there are about thirteen species of this reptile, and alligators are represented by only two species,
- Crocodiles were widely distributed in Africa, Asia, America and Australia, and alligators are found exclusively in China and America,
- crocodile peculiarity is adaptation to salt water, while the habitat of alligators is represented only by freshwater bodies of water,
- crocodiles are characterized by the presence of special glands designed to remove excess salts from the body, and alligators are completely deprived of this ability.
Thus, there are not too many differences, but all of them are very pronounced and, if there is some observation, they allow to accurately differentiate the representative of the squad of crocodiles.
How does a crocodile differ from an alligator?
The main difference, by which you can immediately distinguish the alligator from the crocodile, is in the shape of the head. At the crocodile it is longer, and the muzzle is pointed. The alligator's head is wider, shorter and has a "dull" face. The reptile also does not see the lower 4th tooth, when the jaws are closed. Another important point is that the reptile can only live in fresh water, and the crocodile has special glands that filter the salt, so it can also live in seawater. There are differences in the diet. Crocodiles consume only fish and meat, and alligators in addition eat leaves and fruits, that is, they eat vegetable food.
American alligator I have chosen for myself the southeast of the USA and lives in wetlands. Males are larger than females. Their average length reaches 3.4 meters. The weak floor has a corresponding parameter of 2.6 meters. Old males over 4 meters long are caught. The largest copy was recorded in 1980 in Louisiana. Its length reached 5.8 meters. Males usually weigh 220-230 kg, the mass of females is 90-100 kg. Representatives of the species have a weak bone osseous crest.
Paws are short. On the front there are 5 fingers, on the back only 4. The tail is strong and flexible. The upper body is protected by bone plates. The belly has a cream color. The upper torso is colored brown, black or gray. Teeth in the mouth, there are 74-84. The iris of the eye is gray. Life expectancy is 30-50 years. However, there is a strong belief that these reptiles can live for 100 and 150 years.
Chinese alligator smaller than their American counterpart. The typical length of the body of a representative of the species is 1.5 meters with a mass of 36 kg. Females are usually 10 cm shorter than males. The greatest length of the stronger sex is 2.1 meters and weighs 45 kg. The body is covered with bone plates completely, that is, they are not only on the back, but also on the stomach. The eyelids are protected by bone shields. Body color yellowish gray. There are black spots on the lower jaw. Young individuals have yellow streaks on their bodies. There are they on the tail. As they grow older, the bands fade and then disappear. It is believed that the meat of this type helps to cure colds and cancer. This opinion largely contributed to the destruction of reptiles.
The mating season comes in the spring. Males and females roar, attracting partners. Under the lower jaw there is a special musky gland. It emits a characteristic odor, which also contributes to the formation of marital unions. Males create whole harems in which there can be up to 10 females.
The nest is arranged near water. For this grass, branches, leaves are raked in a heap. A hill about 1 meter high is being created. Chinese residents lay 10-40 eggs. Masonry Americans has 20-50 eggs. On top of the eggs are covered with vegetation. The incubation period lasts 65 days. Females are all the time near the nest and protect it from predators. When cubs hatch from eggs, they start beeping. The female hears a squeak and breaks the upper layer. Then takes the babies in the mouth and carries them to the water. Newborns have transverse yellow stripes on their bodies. They create a protective color. Mother takes care of the younger generation for several months. When the babies grow up, the female begins to show aggressiveness towards them. Young people are forced to leave a parent and move on to independent living.
In adulthood, the alligator leads a solitary lifestyle and has its own territory. By alien reptiles shows aggressiveness. Young reptiles live in groups and treat each other quite tolerantly. In appearance, these predators are rather slow and clumsy. But during the hunt can reach speeds of up to 45 km / h. With the onset of autumn hibernate. To do this, dig burrows on the banks of reservoirs. In a large hole several reptiles are settled at once. Sometimes, instead of a hole they use dirt, burrowing into it. Above the surface only stick out nostrils. Even when the dirt freezes during cold weather, the reptile feels safe, as oxygen is properly supplied to the lungs.
Alligator is a predator. The American species, due to its size, stands at the very top among all the predators. He even attacks deer and boars, but this happens quite rarely. The main diet consists of fish, turtles, muskrats, raccoons, nutria. It comes to the birds, if they gape on the water surface. In the toothy mouth and livestock, as well as dogs. Snakes and lizards are also included in the diet, and insects and invertebrates are eaten by young people. The Chinese species has a smaller size, so it is not so formidable and dangerous. It eats mainly fish, snakes, birds, invertebrates, insects. The lifestyle is mostly nightlife. During the day, the reptile rests in the hole.
The situation with the number of American residents is quite acceptable. People care, cherish them, and reptiles feel quite comfortable. In the fertile lands of North America, their number is approaching a million. But the Chinese are aggressive to their alligators. As a result, as already mentioned, their number reaches only 200 individuals. But the Americans and here have proven their inexhaustible love for reptiles. Representatives of the species they took to themselves in the United States. And the lucky ones are now surrounded by care and attention, dwelling in the south of Florida. In general, it should be noted that today, the disappearance of any of the species is not threatened.
The main differences between these reptiles.
As you know, crocodiles are one of the most ancient inhabitants of our planet. They appeared much earlier than dinosaurs and, over time, slightly changed their appearance.
Both crocodiles and alligators belong to the order of aquatic vertebrates of the Crocodilia species. Not a knowledgeable person can easily confuse them.
What is the difference between these seemingly similar reptiles?
One of the main differences is the habitat.
Crocodiles are found on almost all continents of our planet. And alligators only in China and America. Crocodiles in the world, there are more than 10 species, and alligators are only two species. The former adapted to saline water, while the latter predominantly live in reservoirs only with fresh water. This is due to the fact that crocodiles have special glands for removing salts from the body, and alligators do not have such.
Another degree of difference is appearance. Crocodiles are significantly larger in size (up to 7 meters) than alligators. The body of the crocodile is covered with dark spots - "motion sensors" - with the help of them the reptile tracks its prey, and the alligator has such spots only near the head. The crocodile's head itself is an elongated shape, and alligators have a more rounded shape. In the first, the upper and lower teeth are located one above the other, while in the second, the upper jaw is in front and only one can be seen when closing the mouth.
They say that crocodiles are much more bloodthirsty than their relatives. Of course, alligators will not miss the prey, but crocodiles can attack people. These are the distinctive features of these reptiles.