Alligators and Crocodiles
Alligators and crocodiles are reptiles that have four short legs and a long tail. These animals look alike but one way to tell the difference is to look at their mouths. When a crocodile’s mouth is closed, you can see its bottom teeth (left). An alligator’s teeth don’t show when its mouth is closed (right).
The Chinese alligator lives on the Yangtze River in China. Because people have hunted it too much, this alligator is considered endangered.
The gavial is a member of the crocodile family and a close relative of the alligator. It lives in northern India.
The caiman is related to alligators and crocodiles. It is smaller than most other crocodilians, reaching a length of about 9 feet (3 meters).
Stalking Its Prey
Alligators and crocodiles can move silently through the water with just their eyes showing, looking for prey. They attack with lightning quickness. Alligators and crocodiles eat fish, turtles, frogs, birds, and other animals.
Basking in the Sun
Alligators and their relatives are cold-blooded reptiles. They lie in the sun to keep warm, as this alligator is doing in a Georgia swamp.
One way to tell crocodilians apart is by the shape of their skull. This picture shows, from left to right, the skulls of a crocodile, an alligator, a caiman, and a gavial.