Is That An Alligator Or A Crocodile?

Did you know that southern Florida is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles can both be found? Me either! I always thought it was alligators in the north and crocodiles in the south. Not sure where I got that idea, but the truth is that alligators are in fresh water and crocodiles are in salt water. However, in the zone where the salt water meets the fresh water, both can be found.

So how can you tell the difference? This is what a crocodile looks like when he’s coming to getcha…
Crocodile, Everglades National Park, Florida
As always, you can click the images to view larger versions. I took this photo while standing on a bridge, so I wasn’t as terrified as you might think.

Here is what the alligator looks like when you see the length of his full body. Notice that the crocodile has a pointed V shaped snout where the alligator has a wide U shaped snout.
Alligator, Everglades National Park, Florida

I just couldn’t resist including this image of what the alligator looks like when he’s coming to getcha…
Alligator, Everglades National Park, Florida
Alligators usually lay around like rocks but when they decide to go they really go! I have to admit this one freaked me out a bit. Just the way he was looking at me like I might be lunch.

Now let’s compare profiles. Here is the profile view of the crocodile.
Crocodile, Everglades National Park, Florida
Notice how his bottom teeth are visible when his mouth is closed. Also he is a light grey/brown colour.

In the profile view of the alligator below you cannot see his bottom teeth and he is a much darker black/green colour.
Alligator, Everglades National Park, Florida

Okay, let’s see your teeth Mr. Croc!
Crocodile, Everglades National Park, Florida

I have to say this photo was extremely hard to get! After the crocodile swam up to the bridge he went behind the mangrove, climbed up on the rocks behind it, and just sat there with his jaw open like that. From the bridge I had to lean way over and lift my camera over my head as far as I could to get an angle where the croc was not behind the plant.

Here is the alligator’s teeth:
Alligator, Everglades National Park, Florida

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15 Responses to “Is That An Alligator Or A Crocodile?”

  1. Len Saltiel says:

    Great images Anne. The ones with the teeth are kind of scary. It’s amazing how many alligators and crocodiles there are in Florida.
    Len Saltiel recently posted..Sailing Into the FireMy Profile

    • Hi Len, there are tons of alligators everywhere. Especially up at Shark Valley, they are laying around all over the place. I only saw crocodiles at Flamingo in the Everglades. Their teeth are pretty scary!

  2. Howard J says:

    Comin’ to getcha..Gave me goosebumps Anne! Great comparisons, wonderfully sharp!
    Howard J recently posted..Week 5 of 52 week challenge: “I Left My Heart In…(Favorite Place)”My Profile

  3. Yikes! Excellent photo-lesson on the differences between the two!

    • Thanks Henry. It was fun to do, I was originally just writing about the crocodiles when I realized I had so many alligator photos I could probably do a comparison with similar compositions and poses.

  4. Yikes, Anne – please be careful! These are big critters with major teeth! Great photos though – and very interesting post – well done!
    Laurie MacBride recently posted..Tidal Edge: Where Land, Sea & Ancient Cultures MeetMy Profile

    • Hi Laurie, thank you for your comments. It was nearly as scary as the photos make it appear. I was using a telephoto lens after all! Thanks again for sending the feedback from your friend, much appreciated.

  5. Russ Bishop says:

    I honestly didn’t know how to tell them apart before reading this Anne – thanks for sharing.

    And do be careful out there – I plan on enjoying your posts when you get to the southwest!!
    Russ Bishop recently posted..Notre Dame – The Lady of ParisMy Profile

  6. world clock says:

    Is That An Alligator Or A Crocodile? – Anne McKinnell Photography – just great!

  7. Edith Levy says:

    Unbelievable images Anne. Alligator/Crocodile….they both look scary to me. Actually your 3 rd image freaked me out a bit. How close were you? The profile view of the alligator looks like he’s smiling…kind of in that “when you least expect it….expect it” way.
    Edith Levy recently posted..Horsing Around in Old MontrealMy Profile

    • Hi Edith, that 3rd image kind of freaked me out when I saw it on my computer more than it did at the time! I was down low photographing him in the water when he suddenly decided to climb out. He wasn’t really coming after me, just getting out of the water (I think!). I was using a telephoto lens, so I was probably 30 feet away from him. Still they can move pretty fast, I just took this one shot and once I realized he was moving I started backing up. Thank you very much for your kind comments!

  8. Love this post, Anne, I not only had a chance to see some great photos of some truly scary reptiles, but I learned a lot too! Great work here, my friend.
    Toad Hollow Photography recently posted..Vancouver Island FarmsMy Profile

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