Shark vs Alligator: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: May 13, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Peter_Nile
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Sharks are some of the most dangerous creatures below the ocean waves. They have incredible senses and massive bodies paired with a viciousness that makes them successful predators. Alligators are ambush predators that live in and around water for much of their lives. Although alligators tend to live in freshwater, they can survive in saltwater. The chances are slim, but what would happen in a shark vs alligator fight? We’ve done the comparisons for you, so sit back and read about the most likely outcomes of this fight!

Comparing a Shark and an Alligator

Alligators and sharks don’t commonly meet, but would be an incredible face-off in nature!

A-Z-Animals.com

SharkAlligator
SizeWeight: 1,000lbs – 2,400lbs
Length: 11ft – 21ft
Weight: 400lbs to 800lbs (sometimes more)
Height: 1ft – 2ft off the ground Length: 8.2 feet to 11.2 feet long
Speed and Movement Type– 20mph – 35mph
– Uses an undulating, side-to-side motion from the tail and body.
– 30 mph over short distances on land
– Locomotion includes swimming and scampering on the ground.
Bite Power and Teeth4,000 PSI  
-About 50 teeth are available to bite in the first row, but 300 teeth overall – Teeth 4-6 inches long
2,980 PSI bite power
Roughly 80 teeth
– Teeth roughly 2” in length
Senses– Good vision with sharp focus and night vision.
– Great whites hear low frequencies, but it’s not their best sense.
– Incredible smell for substances at 1 part per 10 billion parts of water
– Possess ampullae of Lorenzini to detect electrical fields
– Poor vision in water due to protective membrane
– Good sight on land
Highly receptive to vibrations
– Strong sense of smell.
Defenses– Large size
– Bursts of swim speed
– Camouflage
– Speed
– Hissing threat display  
Offensive Capabilities–  Massive biting power
– Long, triangular teeth
– Fast swim speed
– Powerful bite
– Death roll can instantly amputate
– Speed allows for devastatingly quick attacks to occur  
Predatory Behavior– Relies on stealth and ambush to attack– Ambush prey by keeping eyes and nostrils above water
– Clamp onto enemies and use a death roll

The Key Factors in a Fight Between a Shark and an Alligator

Alligator Lifespan - Alligator front view
A shark vs alligator fight comes down to the ability to fight underwater.

iStock.com/cturtletrax

An alligator and shark fight would require a lot of luck to happen in the first place, so how do we decide the winner? Basically, we consider the animals’ physical elements and compare them against one another to determine whether the cartilaginous fish or the deadly reptile has the advantage.

Once we know if the shark or alligator has a better chance from a physical standpoint, we add combat styles into the mix and see what happens. With all that data, we gain a pretty good idea of who wins a shark vs alligator fight.

Physical Features of a Shark and an Alligator

Shark Eyelid - Great white with eyes rolled back while hunting
Some sharks can weigh 2,400lbs!

Alessandro De Maddalena/Shutterstock.com

A big part of determining which creature is going to win a battle against the other stems from their physical components. We’re going to explore five facets of these animals’ bodies and show which of them has the advantage over the other.  

Shark vs Alligator: Size

The first thing we have to consider is the size of the two creatures. Sharks can be massive, weighing up to 2,400lbs and growing up to 21 feet long. In fact, the largest great white on record weighs 5,000 pounds! Next to them, alligators are positively small. They max out the scale at about 800lbs and only grow 11 feet long or slightly more. The largest alligator ever recorded weighed just 1,380 pounds. A large creature no doubt, but a fraction the size of the largest sharks.

Sharks have an advantage in terms of size.

Shark vs Alligator: Speed and Movement

Since the fight will be taking place in water, we can ignore the alligator’s great speed on land. In the water, they can reach speeds of 20mph over short distances. However, sharks can swim at an astounding 35mph when they are closing the gap between themselves and their prey. Both animals use an undulating, side-to-side motion of their tails to reach max speed.

Sharks have a serious advantage in terms of movement and speed.

Shark vs Alligator: Bite Power and Teeth

The alligator’s bite can be incredibly powerful with 2,980 PSI digging into their foes with 2-inch-long teeth. Sharks have even more profound power for biting, and it’s estimated that they could bite up to 4,000PSI, stronger than a crocodile’s bite. However, their bite has never been measured. Their teeth can reach up to 6 inches in length, though.

Sharks have the advantage in terms of bite power and teeth!

Shark vs Alligator: Senses

Sharks have profound senses that allow them to find their prey in the water. Their vision is great at day or night, and they can hear some low frequencies. Their smell can only be described as incredible as they can sense 1 part of substance per billion parts of water! Also, they can detect the slight electrical fields within other animals. They’re built to hunt!

Alligators have poor vision in the water, but they can sense vibrations in the area around them. They have a strong sense of smell, but not anything like sharks.

Sharks have the advantage in terms of senses.

Shark vs Alligator: Physical Defenses

The shark’s primarily physical defense is its size. They are simply too big for other sea creatures to attack in most cases. Moreover, they’re fast and can use bursts of speed to escape their enemies.

Alligators have good speed, thick, scaly skin, and camouflage to keep them safe.

Sharks have the defensive edge.

Combat Skills of a Shark and an Alligator

animals unique to North America: American alligator
Alligators use their powerful bites to attack their foes.

iStock.com/Bradley Proxmire

Sharks have long, triangular teeth that are designed to tear huge amounts of flesh from their prey. That massive biting power gives them the ability to instantly end fights and exsanguinate foes.

Alligators have a strong bite, and their conical teeth ensure that what they bite down on doesn’t get away. Moreover, they use death rolls to amputate limbs and cause serious damage to enemies.

Both creatures are highly effective at fighting, so we won’t assign an advantage in this case.  

What Are Key Differences Between a Shark and an Alligator?

Strongest animal bite – American alligator
The bigger shark species are larger, more powerful, and better-adapted to fighting in water than alligators.

RICIfoto/Shutterstock.com

Sharks are cartilaginous fish and alligators are semi-aquatic reptiles. Sharks are longer, heavier, and have a stronger bite than alligators. Also, sharks are much faster in the water than alligators. Sharks also have much more acute senses than alligators, allowing them to find prey in the water with greater ease and precision.

Both creatures are ambush predators, but alligators ambush from the water onto land in many cases. Sharks can only hunt in water. Alligators can survive in saltwater for a little while, but sharks live in saltwater all the time. These are the most important differences between the two animals.

Who Would Win in a Fight Between a Shark and an Alligator?

Biggest Fish: Great White Shark
A shark would beat an alligator in a fight with ease!

Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.com

A shark would win a fight against an alligator. Sharks are larger, stronger, and more powerful than alligators. The fight would start with the shark sensing the alligator in the water with its powerful sense of smell. It would rush towards it, driving all of its weight into the alligator while landing a bone-breaking bite.

The alligator can bite and thrash, and it might do some damage to the shark. However, the initial bite from a shark, which is almost guaranteed to land, will do such immense damage to the alligator that it won’t be able to effectively fight back.

The alligator won’t be able to see where it’s biting due to its overall poor vision and the saltwater, but the shark will simply aim for a vital area on the alligator, clamping down on its head or limbs. The shark wins this fight!  

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About the Author

I am a freelancer specializing in SEO content writing. I write in a variety of niches such as video games, animals, and managed service providers. I've been writing full-time since 2018, so I've been doing remote work before it was cool. When I'm not working, I can be found reading, trying to catch up on my tv show backlog, playing video games, and starting stories that I'll never finish.

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