Alligator or crocodile? Here’s how Floridians can tell the difference

ORLANDO, Fla. — Did you know Florida is not only home to alligators but also crocodiles?

Both could be lurking in the state’s waterways. Here are some ways to tell them apart, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission:


Crocodiles are a grayish-green color, while alligators are black.

When their mouths are closed, you can see the fourth tooth on the lower jaw of a crocodile. On an alligator with its mouth closed you can only see its upper teeth.

Read: Alligator seen with person in mouth; woman’s remains identified

Crocodiles have a narrow, tapered snout, while alligators have a broad, rounded snout.

Young crocodiles are light with dark stripes while young alligators are dark with yellow stripes.

Read: FWC: Florida woman cited for keeping “borrowed” baby alligator in resort bathtub

Florida is the only place in the United States where people can see crocodiles in the wild, while alligators can be found across the Southeast.

Crocodiles are most commonly occur in brackish and saltwater habitats, such as ponds, coves and tidal creeks lined with mangroves. Crocodiles also can be found inland in freshwater habitats due to South Florida’s extensive canal system.  Alligators prefer freshwater lakes and slow-moving rivers and their associated wetlands, but they also can be found in brackish water habitats.

Read: What a croc: Reptile swimming under pier shuts down South Florida beach

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

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