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What is the difference between an alligator and a crocodile?

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  • Marcus DeMaaijer
    The American Alligator is the largest of all of the crocodile family members in North America. It can move fast in the water and on land, and has an extremely
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 4, 2005
      The American Alligator is the largest of all of the crocodile family
      members in North America. It can move fast in the water and on land,
      and has an extremely muscular tail, which it uses to propel itself
      through the water. The word alligator comes from the Spanish word el
      lagarto which means the lizard.


      What is the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? Well,
      first of all the alligator has a broad snout and all of its teeth in
      the upper jaw overlap those in the lower jaw. An alligator is
      slightly bigger than a crocodile, and the crocodiles snout is
      bigger, and narrower. You can also see a crocodiles enlarged, lower
      teeth even when its mouth closed.


      Male alligators are called bulls. The bull is usually much larger
      than the female alligator. The male alligator will roar very loadly
      to call a mate and to scare other bulls away. Female alligators will
      lay their eggs in a nest. The nest is usually made up of damp and
      rotting vegetation. She will cover her eggs with even more
      vegetation because it will help to give off heat to keep the eggs
      warm. They typically lay between 25 and 60 eggs, which take 2 to 3
      months to hatch. The female will stay close to the nest to keep the
      eggs safe and scare off any predators.


      When the eggs hatch the baby alligators will send out a high pitched
      croak to let the mother know to open the nest. When they first
      hatch, the babies are only about 8 inches long. They grow about 12
      inches each year. They are independant at birth, and can live to be
      around 50 years old.


      Alligators live in the swamps and wetlands of the southeastern
      United States. Specifically they can be found in Texas, Louisiana,
      Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. These creatures were once on the
      brink if extinction, but thanks to the conservation efforts in the
      1950's to save them, they are no longer an endangered species. The
      only other species of alligator is the much, much smaller Chinese
      alligator.


      Young alligators will eat insects, frogs, shrimp, and tadpoles. When
      they are adults they eat almost anything. Typically their diet is
      made up of fish, but they will also eat raccoons, muskrats, birds,
      turtles, and snakes. They will hunt for most of their prey in the
      water and swallow it whole. Larger mammals that creep to close to an
      alligator will soon become its prey, once caught, the alligator will
      drag them underwater and drown them before eating them.


      Alligators and crocodiles are descendant from the reptiles that
      lived up to 65 million years ago. They can grow up to 18 feet long,
      but are typically about 13 feet long, including their tail. Half of
      the alligators length comes from its tail! They weigh in at 450 to
      500 pounds.


      The critters that have been found at Muizenberg freshwater reservoir
      are currently being identified by Herpetologists of University of
      Florida whom I have emailed pictures of this critter. The pictures
      were given to me via USB datastick by Ultimo Noticia. The genus and
      species will be posted as soon as I receive a reply email from the
      REAL experts in Florida.
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