Alligators and Crocodiles

Two reptiles that are often confused with each other are alligators and crocodiles. They are also referred to as gators and crocs. Since they are both reptiles, they do have similar features and characteristics.

For example, both are cold-blooded and have to regulate their body temperature according to their surroundings. They do this by cooling off in the water or shade and then warming up again in the sun. In addition, like nearly all other reptiles, they lay eggs and their skin is covered with hard, dry scales.

There are differences between alligators and crocodiles as well. One of the most distinguishing features is their snouts. Alligators have a wide, broad nose but a crocodile will usually have a narrow nose. Most alligators are darker in color too. Alligators live near freshwater environments, and there are only two kinds of alligators: American Alligator and Chinese Alligator. Of course, there are only two countries where they are found as well, China and the United States. In the U.S., alligators are mostly found in the southeast in Florida and Louisiana.

Crocodiles, on the other hand, live in many other places and are found in the tropics in America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Crocodiles may be found in both freshwater and saltwater regions. In addition, crocodiles are much more aggressive than gators.

Other similarities include their size. The largest recorded size of an alligator was 19-feet long, and the largest crocodile was nearly 28-feet long. The average size of a Chinese alligator is less than five feet and an American gator between 9.8 and 15 feet. Crocodiles are smaller and grow to an average length between 4.9 to 6.2 feet.

Crocodiles and alligators swim very well and very fast. Out of water, they may appear to be slow as they can lay still for hours in the sun and often move very slowly. However, an attacking gator or croc can move quickly over short distances. In fact, they can move much faster than a human can run. Depending on the crocodile species, they can move on land and water between 15 to 22 miles per hour, and alligators can move at a pace of about 20 miles per hour. The higher speeds are reached while in water, where they can hold their breath for nearly an hour.

Both animals are carnivores which mean they only eat meat. They will catch and then kill just about any animal they can catch. Alligators and crocodiles will eat frogs, deer, fish, birds, buffalo, and many other types of prey. Though they have sharp teeth, the animals do not chew their food, but simply use their teeth to tear off chunks and then swallow them whole.

The senses of large beasts include excellent hearing, eyesight, and sense of smell. Though most reptiles do not take care of their young when hatched, the crocs and gators do after they hatch from their eggs. Sometimes young crocodiles ride on their mother's back or hide from predators inside the mother's mouth.

Finally, alligators and crocodiles are one of the most dangerous animals to humans and in cases when they attack, the person often will not survive.

A: Hard, dry scales
B: Narrow noses
C: Cold-blooded
D: Carnivores

A: China and the United States
B: Africa
C: Asia
D: Australia

A: Taste
B: Eyesight
C: Smell
D: Hearing

A: Northwest
B: Northeast
C: Southeast
D: Southwest

A: About 9.8 feet
B: Less than 5 feet
C: More than 15 feet
D: About 5 to 7 feet

A: Frogs
B: Deer
C: Algae
D: Birds

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