There are many things that can help you tell the difference between alligators and crocodiles. Many people get these two carnivores mixed up and use their names interchangeably. This, however, is a mistake. It is rare that you will find both alligators and crocodiles in the same area, but if you are lucky (or unlucky) enough to run into both animals, there are some things you can look notice to tell the difference between the two.
Head One of the easiest things to look for on an alligator and crocodile's bodies is the head. Alligators have a much shorter and rounder snout than crocodiles. The head of an alligator is much broader and heavier compared to a crocodile, who has an elongated snout and narrow head. When either of these animals are stalking prey in the water, only their eyes and the tip of their snout will be visible above the water. You can also tell the difference between the animals by looking at how much space is between their eyes. Naturally, the broader head of the alligator will have more space between the eyes than the crocodile head. You can also tell the difference by looking at their teeth in respect to their jaw. When the mouth of an alligator is closed, all of their teeth are hidden from view; this is not true for crocodiles. When a crocodile closes his mouth, the fourth tooth is still visible, protruding up past the upper jaw.
Environment There is stark difference an alligator and crocodile's habitats. Because of the specialized glands in the crocodile's mouth that enables them to filter much of the salt out of saltwater, they will mostly be found along coastal beaches and in saltwater rivers and lakes. As for the alligator, their gland is much smaller and not as efficient in filtration, so they will mostly be found in fresh water pools, lakes, rivers and swamps. However, this is not a solid fact. There are times when you can find an alligator swimming in the saltwater and a crocodile will sometimes make his way into freshwater. Additionally, there are some species of alligator that seems to prefer saltwater and a few species of crocodile that like fresh water.
While both alligators and crocodiles are amazing creatures and interesting to watch, you should be extremely careful in areas that are known to harbor them. Both kinds of animal are skilled hunters, especially in the water, and are expert ambushers. They can be under the water watching you and you would never know until they have you in their jaws. If you are out near the water watching these majestic creatures, be sure to have someone with you and know your surroundings. You can help everyone stay safe, even the alligator and crocodile by simply knowing where you and they are positioned. Have fun studying the difference between alligators and crocodiles and always use common sense when dealing with nature.