The impressive biodiversity in Africa offers all sorts of habitats and sustainability for a great range of the wildest animals that few other ecosystems can provide.
One would think that African rain forests, slow-flowing rivers, and swamps seem to be an ideal paradise for any Reptile; however, one particular species has never lived in this splendid ecosystem; and the answer relays on the difference between alligators and crocodiles.
Are There Alligators In Africa?
While some of the deadliest crocodile species exist by de Nile River, alligators do not live in Africa. The confusion might arise from the similarity of some African crocodiles to alligators, but if we compare both species, you can realize how different one is from another.
While gators and crocodiles are related by the Crocodilia genus, they belong to two different biological families. Alligators belong to the Alligatoridae family and crocodiles to the Crocodylinae.
The major differences between both species are physical. Compared to crocodiles, alligators have u-shaped and broad snouts, shorter head, they are grey instead of olive green, and their lower teeth are not visible if their mouth is closed. Alligators live in freshwater, while crocodiles can tolerate salty ones thanks to a special gland on their tongues, which gators do not possess, which gets rid of any salt excess.
But the fundamental difference between the two is that crocodiles can be found all around the world, including Africa but rarely found throughout the United States, while we can only find alligators in two countries.
Are There Alligators In South Africa?
South Africa is also a see you later alligator when it comes to these specific reptiles. You see, South Africa is a semi-arid land, and it has quite a hot and dry climate, with temperatures up to 30º C and rain only during the summer.
Both alligators and crocodiles are cold-blooded creatures, which means the environment regulates their body temperature. These reptiles need water to cool down and sunlight to warm up. Even if crocodiles have adapted to these hot and dry climates, gators need to live close to water bodies and in places where the climate is not as dry. Alligators are the only ones that can tolerate freezing temperatures, but they are surely not warm-weather fans.
The actual answer to why alligators can only be found in two countries is still not a certain one, but experts seem to think it has to do with the biomes they live in. In Florida, for example, even if the temperature rises as much as in South Africa, it is a subtropical land with heavy rainfalls and a humid climate throughout most of the year.
On the other side, one of the most dangerous crocodile species known as the Nile crocodile live throughout South Africa, Egypt, and Madagascar. Not only is this croc the most aggressive of its kind and the second largest reptile in the world, but also its bite is said to have eight times the force of a white whale!
Are There Alligators In West Africa?
No, there are no alligators in West Africa only crocodiles where you can find two famous species. First, the West African crocodile, also known as the desert crocodile; scientists categorized it as a different species than the Nile croc because of their smaller size and ability to survive drier climates.
The second one is the West African Slender-snouted crocodile, which might look somewhat like a young American alligator–which might be the reason some people think it is not a croc. This thin-snouted animal can be found in the lakes and rivers of West Africa and is an endangered species.
Are There Any Gators In The African Savanna?
The grasslands of the African Savanna are home to a wide variety of reptiles, from snakes to lizards and crocodiles, but there are no alligators there only crocodiles. The two crocodile species you can find over there are the Nile crocodile and the African dwarf crocodile, which are a fun-sized version of a big croc being only 6 feet large. It is considered the smallest crocodile in the world.
While Africa is home to several crocodile species, the only two living alligator species, the American and the Chinese alligator can only be found in their corresponding countries.
American Alligators—These reptiles are found in the Southern United States, most popular in Louisiana and Florida, but can also be found in South Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, South and North Carolina and Oklahoma. These freshwater reptiles live in swamps, lakes, rivers, and wetlands – which is their favorite habitat.
Gators are the largest reptiles found in the USA, and they can be up to 5 meters long and weigh up to 800 pounds!
Chinese Alligators–These gators also known as the muddy dragons are an extremely endangered species, with a population under 300. It can only be found in the lower areas of the Yangtze River in China, which is the longest river in Eastern Asia. These reptiles are the only alligator species living outside the United States, and they can be up to 1.5 meters long and weigh around 50 pounds.
The key difference against American alligators is that they are significantly smaller, with a bigger head, bony scales on their eyelids and bellies, and a slightly lifted snout.
Are There Orange Alligators?
Alligators are normally black or grey colored, which is one of the major differences they have against crocodiles. However, some beautifully bright orange alligators were recently spotted in South Carolina. Scientists are still not sure if the color has to do with genetics, or more probably with some iron oxide which gave them that rusted look.
While we cannot find alligators in Africa, and the only orange species ever found were in South Carolina, near the region of Gabon in Africa, they discovered some orange dwarf crocodiles.
These creatures have fascinated scientists all around the world because of their vibrant and unusual color, which they are not sure if it is an evolution of their DNA or a consequence of some chemical exposure. They were discovered in 2009 living in the Abanda caves, which is a very solitary area where few humans live around.
What Do Alligators Eat?
The two existing species vary their diets according to the areas where they live. The Chinese alligator feeds on crustaceans, fish, snails, birds, ducks, small rodents, snails, and other insects.
American alligators eat all sorts of fish, frogs, birds, and small mammals, but since they are opportunistic eaters that will eat whatever seems like a good snack.
Are The Gators In the Nile River?
While we cannot find any Alligators swimming around that part of the globe,we can find the famous Nile crocodile, which was named after the freshwater body, Crocodylus niloticus, which means, “pebble worm of the Nile”. We can find these deadly crocodiles along the Nile River, and other swamps, lakes, and rivers along with Egypt, Madagascar, sub-Saharan Africa, and Sudan.
Are there crocodiles in Africa?
Yes! There are actually 5 crocodile species living in Africa–there used to be seven species a long time ago. Diverse ecosystems all around Africa have the Nile crocodile, the West African crocodile, the West African slender-snouted crocodile, the Central African slender-snouted crocodile, and the African Dwarf crocodile.