Compare And Contrast Essay Alligators And Crocodiles

...Alligators and crocodiles do look similar but there are several physical characteristics that differentiate the two giant reptiles. Scientists separate alligators, crocodiles, and their cousins, caimans and gharials, according to differences in their skulls, scales, and teeth. The most easily observed difference between alligators and crocodiles is the shape of the head. The crocodile's skull and jaws are longer and narrower than the alligator's. The American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis, resides primarily in the rivers and wetlands in the southeastern region of North Carolina, but can also be found as far north as the Albemarle Sound. Coastal North Carolina is the northern most range for the American alligator. In both alligators and crocodiles, the fourth tooth on either side of the lower jaw is exceptionally long. When an alligator closes its mouth, those long teeth slip into sockets in the upper jaw and disappear. When a crocodile closes its mouth, the long teeth remain visible, protruding outside the upper jaw. In general, if you can still see a lot of teeth even when the animal's mouth is closed, you are looking at a crocodile. Alligators have plenty of teeth, but fewer show until the mouth is open. Like sharks, crocodilians never run out...

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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