Crocodile stares

Crocs rock!

American Alligator

Crocodilians—which include alligators, crocodiles, caimans, and gharials—are some of the oldest animals on the planet, having first appeared about 230 million years ago! The only reptiles older than crocodilians are turtles, tortoises, and tuatara. And would you believe crocodilians are more closely related to birds and dinosaurs than most living reptiles?

Crocodile pokes his head out of the water

Bad-rap reptiles

These cold-blooded, thick-skinned, egg-laying animals strike fear in the hearts of many and respect in others. They are certainly misunderstood, and most face serious threats to their habitat as well as being hunted for their skin. It's not easy being a croc!

Alligator sits and waits in the water

Which is which?

And how can you tell a crocodile from an alligator? At first glance, they seem pretty similar. Here are a few clues: first, look at the jaw. Alligators tend to have wide, U-shaped, rounded snouts, while crocodiles usually have longer, more pointed, V-shaped snouts.

Crocodile Teeth Closeup

Tell the "tooth"

Teeth tell the truth! The fourth tooth on the lower jaw sticks up over the upper lip on crocodiles, so you can see it when their mouth is closed. In alligators, this fourth tooth is covered up.

Salt water crocodile going for a swim

Water, water everywhere

Home, sweet home: although there are some exceptions, crocodiles most often live in saltwater habitats, and alligators like to live in freshwater habitats.

Crocodilians may be fierce carnivores, but they play an important role in the ecosystem. So remember—crocs rock!