Although they are often confused, crocodiles and alligators aren’t the same creatures. Part of what makes them so confusing is their appearance, but they also share a native range in one particular spot in the world. In fact, this location is the only place on earth where crocodiles and alligators live in exactly the same place! Even if you may not know the place off the top of your head, you’ve probably heard of it before. Let’s find out where, plus a bit more about these unique creatures.
Where do crocodiles and alligators coexist together?
The only place in the world where you can find both crocodiles and alligators living together is in certain locations across south Florida.
The American alligator is usually the member of the Crocodylia family (the group of all crocodile-like creatures) that gets the most attention in the United States. They can be found across the southern states and as far north as the coastal regions of North Carolina. In the United States alone, there are over 5 million alligators living across the southern belt.
In addition to alligators, however, the American crocodile also lives in a few places in the United States, namely around the southern tip of Florida. Since crocodiles are less cold tolerant than alligators, they inhabit Mexico, Central America, and the northern coast of South America. There are less than 2,000 crocodiles in the United States.
The most common place where these two creatures can be seen together is within the Florida Everglades. The Everglades is a swampy region that is home to millions of creatures and is the perfect environment for both the alligator and the crocodile.
What kinds of crocodiles and alligators live in Florida?
The only species of alligator that lives in the United States is the American alligator. In fact, there are only two species of alligator in the world, the other one being the Chinese alligator. Chinese alligators are extremely threatened and at risk of extinction. Current estimates place wild Chinese alligator numbers at less than 120 individuals.
The only species of crocodile in the United States is the American crocodile. Unlike the two species of alligator, however, there are many different types of crocodiles across the world. Currently, there are 14 recognized species. Famous examples of crocodile species include the Nile crocodile and the largest reptile on earth, the saltwater crocodile.
Although there is only one species of alligator and crocodile in the United States, a few smaller members of the Crocodylia family may be making a comeback. Caimans aren’t nearly as large or dangerous as alligators or crocodiles, but they have potentially set up long-term homes in Florida. Like the crocodile, they aren’t cold tolerant and can’t head far north, but escaped individuals from the pet trade and other migratory individuals seem to have stable populations. There are two species of caiman in Florida, the spectacled caiman, and the common caiman, neither of which grow more than 5 or 6 feet long.
What are the main differences between crocodiles and alligators?
Identifying the differences between a crocodile and an alligator isn’t all that hard in ideal circumstances. The biggest difference between the two is their snouts. Crocodiles have long, pointed snouts that end in a V, while alligators have shorter snouts that end in a U. Additionally, you can’t see an alligator’s teeth when its mouth is shut, whereas with a crocodile you can. The shorter snout of an alligator allows them to crush tough prey, especially things like turtles.
Crocodiles are usually lighter in color and come in shades of light tan or brown, whereas alligators are much darker and usually come in shades of black or dark gray.
As a general rule, humans shouldn’t walk up to any large reptiles they see unless they are a professional. Knowing that, it is good to know that alligators are usually more docile, while crocodiles are known to be quite aggressive. Thankfully, crocodiles aren’t in places where humans generally hang out (swamps) in the United States.
Do crocodiles and alligators fight one another?
Since the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators live together is in southern Florida, there isn’t a large amount of data surrounding the coexistence of the two. Still, from most observations, it doesn’t appear that there is any direct aggression towards one another that wouldn’t be common between members of their own species. Crocodiles and alligators can be aggressive towards their own species in certain circumstances and appear to be around the same level of aggression towards other members of the Crocodylia family.
In many situations, crocodiles and alligators in southern Florida appear to be able to live in close proximity to one another without too much issue.
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