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Florida Key’s Crocodiles -vs- Everglades’ Alligators

Here’s a blast from the past and STILL one of the most read blogs I’ve ever written! I hope you enjoy the retro info! :-)

Most people can’t tell the difference between crocodiles and alligators! I for one have fallen into this trap; on Dec. 21, 2011 I wrongly included both in the blog “A Rare Crocodile Crossing Sign” and will now set the record straight. Here are SOME of the subtle but yet distinctive differences:

Habitat: Alligators prefer a freshwater habitat, while crocodiles prefer to live in saltwater or brackish water (saltwater & freshwater mix). Behavior: Alligators try to flee in most times when approached by humans, while crocodiles tend to attack anything that comes across nearby. Crocodiles are ferocious man eaters. Body Coloration: Alligators are mostly blackish or gray, whereas the color of crocodiles is olive-green or brown. Snout Shape: Alligators have a broader ‘U’ shaped snout, whereas the snout shape of crocodiles is narrow and form a V towards the end. Jaw Placement: The jaw placement of an alligator is such that the upper jaw is wider and covers the lower jaw completely. In case of a crocodile, the width of the upper and lower jaw are the same. Hind Legs: In alligators, there is the absence of a noticeable jagged fringe in the hind legs, whereas these fringes are present in the hind legs and feet of crocodiles. Dermal Pressure Receptors (DPRs): DPRs are small, black, sensory pits that help in detecting changes in the water pressure for locating their prey. In alligators, DPRs are present only around the jaw, whereas in crocodiles, these sensory organs are present in nearly every scale of their body. Salt Gland: The crocodiles use these salt glands for excreting excess salt from the body, whereas in alligators, these salt glands are non functional. This is the reason why crocodiles can tolerate saltwater and alligators cannot.

So the next time you visit the Everglades, Florida Keys or even a zoo, try taking note of your new wealth of knowledge in identifying the differences in crocodiles and alligators! Thank you James W. for your insight of the subject and bringing it to my attention!

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