Crocodiles and alligators belong to the crocodilian order and are also the nearest living relatives to birds.
They are often confused as they look quite similar at first glance, but there are actually major differences between them such as their sizes, their habitats, and behavior.
One thing is for sure, both alligators and crocodiles are powerful and dangerous apex predators, but which one is more Dangerous?
Are Crocodiles More Dangerous Than Alligators?
In general, crocodiles are more dangerous than Alligators.Crocodiles and alligators come in all shapes and sizes, so it would depend on which type of each we are comparing, so let’s put it down to the general facts. Both animals are massive in size and the level of danger they pose, but crocodiles are the heaviest and biggest reptiles that can be found on earth today. Crocodiles are also considered more aggressive than alligators and are known to go looking for trouble.
It is important to consider, however, that there are two types of known alligator species and 13 types of crocodile species. Some are heavier, some can climb trees, and most people can’t tell the difference between them. So, what makes each of these species so dangerous and fascinating? Let’s take a closer look at what sets these creatures apart.
The biggest difference between these two species, and the easiest way to tell them apart, is by looking at the shape of their snouts. Crocodiles have more of a pointy v-shaped snout. Alligators on the other hand have flatter, wider, u-shaped snouts. Their mouths are so strong that in the animal kingdom, it is one of the strongest bite forces ever recorded, and one you do not want to find yourself on the other end of.
Another difference is their habitats. Crocodiles can thrive in both fresh and saltwater but prefer the latter, and are mostly found in lagoons, rivers, and mangrove swamps. Crocodiles can even spend a significant time at sea and swim miles out on the open ocean. Alligators thrive in freshwater, although they can tolerate saltwater for short periods of time and are mostly found in lakes and rivers. They prefer deeper murkier waters too.
But crocodiles and alligators also have loads in common. Both species move quickly on land (up to 11 miles an hour), but glide even faster in the water thanks to their powerful tails and can hold their breath for up to an hour. Speaking of water skills, both alligators and crocodiles have incredible eyes that can adapt to see underwater, stick above water while the rest of their bodies are submerged, and have night vision. They are nocturnal creatures, so they’re most active at night.
Not only is their vision impressive, but their snouts too. Crocodiles and alligators have many tiny bumps on their snouts that make then more sensitive than human fingertips. With this increased sensitivity, they can feel even the slightest water ripple or temperature change. Additionally, both crocodiles and alligators blend into their environments scarily well. Since crocodiles are more coastal their scales are lighter, muddy or sandy green. Alligators scales are often more blackish rendering them essentially invisible in murky and dark waters. With super vision, expert movement tracking, and the world’s best camouflage, no wonder these reptiles are some of the most dangerous apex predators.
As expert hunters, they are not ever to be underestimated. Not only have they been around longer than us, they have also survived mass extinction three times. They are the only one of four suborders to have survived to modern times, and their ancestors date back 200 million years.
Why Are Crocodiles More Dangerous Than Alligators?
Firstly, on average, crocodiles are much larger than alligators. Adult Nile and Saltwater crocodiles, considered the largest of the species, can be up to 7 meters long and weigh over 1000kg! In comparison, adult American alligators, which are considered the largest of their species, can grow up to 5 meters.
Because crocodiles can thrive in both fresh and saltwater, it means that there are more crocodiles in more places in the world. Crocodiles also live significantly longer than alligators. The average lifespan of a crocodile is 70 – 100 years, whereas the lifespan of an average alligator is anywhere between 30 and 50 years. So simply because crocodiles live longer, are larger, and can travel farther and wider, they are the more dangerous species.
Are Crocodiles More Aggressive Than Alligators?
Now both alligators and crocodiles have clashed with the human race violently, but it needs to be said that out of the 23 crocodilian species on earth, only half are considered and danger to humans.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) argue that crocodilians attack humans for the following reasons:
- they are hungry
- they are defending their territory
- they are defending their children
- mistaken identity
That being said, it is widely agreed that crocodiles are way more aggressive than alligators. Crocodiles are known to attack or strike out just because something is near and might even regularly prey on humans.
Alligators are opportunistic eaters, meaning they’ll eat whatever’s around and easily accessible. Where crocodiles spend a lot of time in the water, alligators prefer to sunbathe and lounge near water. They are generally more docile and will only attack when provoked.
Wildlife officials documented that between the years 1948 and 2005, there were 379 cases of alligators attacking humans. 17 of those resulted in death. But here’s the important part. The documents noted that most of these attacks were caused by people trying to catch or pick up the reptile.
The Saltwater crocodile has been dubbed the most aggressive compared to other crocodile species. Crocodiles are usually quite social creatures and can be quite gentle with each other, even tolerating each other during eating. But Saltwater crocodiles, or salties, are known for being short-tempered. They are easily agitated, will rile themselves up, and swing their heads into other crocodiles like sledgehammers. Especially during mating season, where males fight over the females, it can get quite gruesome to watch how viciously these crocodiles will come at each other.
Are Crocodiles Bigger Than Alligators?
On average, yes, crocodiles are bigger than alligators. Though I say this with caution because there are only 2 Alligator species, and 13 crocodile species one earth. The smallest alligator (1.8 meters) is larger than the smallest crocodile (1.7 meters). But the largest crocodile (up to 7 meters) is much bigger than the largest alligator (up to 4.5 meters).
Are Crocodiles Stronger Than Alligators?
Both alligators and crocodiles are incredibly agile, strong, and intelligent hunters, but crocodiles have an upper hand in many areas.
Firstly, they are on average much larger than alligators.
Secondly, they are often perceived has more aggressive and short-tempered.
Lastly, a crocodiles bite force in incomparable to that of any other animal to date. In fact, it is said it even rivals that of a T-Rex. They have a bite force of 3700 pounds per square inch, or psi. Alligators have a bite force of 2980 psi and just to compare those two, a lions jaw strength is around 1000 psi. If you’ve ever been afraid of a lion attack, don’t even begin thinking about a crocodilian attack. Not only is their bite force insane, once they clamp down, they won’t let go.
Crocodiles hunt much larger prey too, such as wildebeest, buffalos, or even hippopotamus. They also have been seen fighting other large land predators, such as lions, where their territories crossover.
So, what would happen if we had a crocodile and alligator them face off in a twin death match?
Crocodile vs Alligator – Who Would Win?
I think its quite safe to say that a crocodile would win here. Larger in size, stronger bite, and anger issues result in one scary apex predator not even another apex predator would want to go up against.
However, depending on the species of crocodile and alligator, alligators have a pretty fair chance at beating a crocodile their size.
Comparison Between Different Crocodiles
There are many crocodile species,however let’s see the most common ones and how they compare against alligators.
Are Saltwater Crocodiles More Dangerous Than Alligators?
Saltwater crocodiles can weigh over 1000kg and grow up to 7 meters in length. Considering Saltwater crocodiles are also dubbed the most aggressive reptile, it is safe to say the are more dangerous than your average gator.
Records are primarily kept by Australia and Malaysia, but the IUCN reported there were 30 attacks on humans associated with saltwater crocodiles between 2000 and 2007.
Saltwater crocodiles are also number 2 on Encyclopaedia Britannica’s list of 7 Crocodilian Species That Are Dangerous To Humans.
Are American Crocodiles More Dangerous Than Alligators?
This one is tough because American crocodiles and the American alligator are quite similar in size. However, 90 American croc attacks were reported between 2008 and 2013. According to IUCN statistics, the American alligator has an average number of 46 attacks over a span of 5 years.
Let’s just call this one even.
Are Nile Crocodiles More Dangerous Than Alligators?
The Nile Crocodile easily tops as the most dangerous crocodilian and is thought to be the cause of more than 300 attacks on people per year. That’s one croc you definitely do not want to get anywhere close to.
You can check out more crocodilian on Encyclopaedia Britannica’s list of 7 Crocodilian Species That Are Dangerous To Humans here:
Which Crocodiles Are The Most Dangerous?
As mentioned, the Nile crocodile is considered to be the most dangerous crocodilian with a very intimidating 300 attacks on humans per year. However, considering the Saltwater croc is considered the most aggressive and largest reptile in the world, and the fact that both are similar in weight and size, lets just say both Saltwater and Nile crocodiles are at the top of the no-no list.
Which Alligators Are The Most Dangerous?
The American alligator takes this one. Compared to the Chinese alligator, whose adults grow up to 1.8 meters, American alligators grow to be more than double in size, with a bite force bigger than hippos.
Do Alligators And Crocodiles Get Along?
Crocodiles and alligators reside in different habitats. One prefers saltwater, the other prefers freshwater. One spends most of their time in the water, the other likes to lounge and sunbathe in the mud or water banks. There is actually only one place in the world where alligators and crocodiles coexist, and that’s the Florida Everglades. Because their behaviour and preferences are so different, they pretty much stay out of each other’s way. Luckily alligators are more chilled out and know better than to aggravate any crocodiles around.
Are caimans more dangerous than crocodiles?
Caimans are generally much smaller than the average crocodile, and attacks on humans are very uncommon. Crocodiles are the more dangerous reptile.
To finish off it is incredibly important to note that while crocodiles, alligators, and basically any crocodilian species are dangerous, they are not the biggest danger humans face. But humans are the biggest danger crocodiles face. Many are endangered, their homes are being destroyed, some are hunted and killed. But crocodiles are an important part of our environment. Nature is a perfect system, and every animal, plant, and living creature has its purpose, and that purpose is balance. We have to remember that the cause of most crocodilian attacks lies with humans. Crocodilians have been here a lot longer than us and have endured so much more. Imagine how many versions of earth they’ve experienced and adapted too! They are our generations dinosaurs and we need to respect that.