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Alligators and Crocodiles Essay

Not many people can differentiate between a crocodile and an alligator. Alligators and crocodiles are similar but different in so many ways. In this paper I will discuss the alligator and crocodile similarities and differences. If you see an alligator or a crocodile could you tell the difference? The ways you can tell the difference in an alligator and a crocodile is the snout, sensory pits, salt glands on tongue, jaws and teeth. Also in this paper I will paint you a picture of how the reptiles look and tell you the difference in the reptile’s size and habitat. Alligators are semi-aquatic carnivorous reptiles with four legs and a huge tail. Col, 2010).

The reptile tail is half its length and it helps propel the alligator through the water. It is also used as a weapon and stores fat for the alligator which he will use for nourishment for the winter. They are coldblooded (ectothermic) animals which do not make their own body heat but gain their heat by basking in the sun. (Col, 2010). The Chinese alligator can grow between 6 feet long and American alligators are 13 feet long but can grow up to 19 feet. Crocodiles have large, broad bodies with short legs and long, muscular tail. The crocodile has thick, leathery skin with bony, plate-shaped scales. (Hayden).

They are cold blooded animals that color is either gray-green or brown. The crocodile have ears which are slits on the side of the head that most of us do not see and allows them to have superb hearing. The crocodile head is long and pointed with the eyes and nostrils located on the top of the head. Crocodile can range from 7-15 feet long but never stop growing and can live up to 75 years. Alligator’s upper jaw is wider than the lower jaw and its lower teeth are mostly hidden when mouth is closed and fit into sockets in the upper jaw but makes the fourth tooth on each sides of its lower jaw fit into a socket in the upper jaw. Turner).

Alligators have a wide U-shaped short snout. Alligators have non-functional salt glands and sensory pits that are only near the jaws. (Col, 2010) Crocodiles upper jaws is about the same size as the lower jaw which makes its lower teeth show outside the upper jaw when mouth is closed. (Turner) The crocodile upper teeth show outside the lower jaw but snouts are narrow, v-shaped and long. Crocodile salt glands on the tongue excrete excess salt and the sensory pits are over most of the body.

Alligators are only native to the United States and China but like to eat fish, turtles, various mammals, birds and other reptiles. The alligator lives only in fresh waters like ponds, marshes, wetlands, rivers, lakes, and swamps. (Lutz, 2012). When on land the alligator is slow to move but can move fairly quickly in short distances. The alligators are usually solitary animals but smaller ones can be found in large numbers close to each other. (Lutz, 2012) Crocodiles live along the coast of Florida. , Central America, and parts of South America.

The crocodile may live in brackish or salt-water that is warm and quiet such as mangrove swamps that are mostly found against the shorelines. (Turner). Crocodile also may live where the river meets the sea known as estuaries. The crocodile eat fish and other animals that they find in or near the water, including turtles, snakes, small mammals, and birds. The reptile does most of its hunting at night which makes him nocturnal. Crocodiles are also shy, reclusive, and rarely seen by people but are still very aggressive. (Hayden) Since alligators and crocodile are both reptiles they are often easily mistaken.

I hope by reading this you can now tell the difference between an alligator and a crocodile. Alligators and crocodile physical appearance are very alike but if you look at the reptiles you could easily point out what is different. The things that are different about them are the snout, salt glands on tongue, sensory pits, jaws, and teeth. Remember crocodiles are very aggressive so do not approach them because they will attack. Now that you have a better visual of a crocodile and alligator, if you were to come into contact with one of the reptiles could you tell the difference between the two.

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