Alligators versus Crocodiles: What’s the Difference?

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Dating back over 240 million years, the Crocodylia lineage has outlived the dinosaurs by over 65 million years. For many, crocodiles and alligators are easily interchangeable and often considered one and the same. In a way, it is easy to confuse these massive creatures. Both are viewed as large reptiles with toothy grins and rough, bumpy skin that have the ability to live on land or in water. 

Similarities Between Alligators and Crocodiles

Among many physical similarities, both have eyes situated on the top of their heads. This enables them to look out for prey while remaining primarily underwater. Their eyes possess the same vertical pupils which helps them to open their eyes extra wide. This not only allows more light to pass through their eyes but also allows them to have night vision. Both alligators and crocodiles possess large, powerful tails. This assists them in swiftly propelling themselves through the water. 

These features help both alligators and crocodiles to catch a variety of prey. This is why they are considered expert hunters. From fish to buffalo, these reptiles are able to eat whatever they can get their jaws on. Since their teeth are specialized particularly for spearing, it is very difficult for prey to escape once captured. If small enough, alligators and crocodiles often swallow their prey whole. Unfortunately for their prey, both alligators and crocodiles possess an unlimited supply of teeth. This means they are able to regrow teeth anytime they are lost. 

Differences Between Alligators and Crocodiles

With a long list of similarities, you are probably wondering what the differences are between alligators and crocodiles. While these two reptile groups are closely related in many categories, there are major differences between them.

Snout and Jawline Shape

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At first glance, people may believe that alligators and crocodiles have the same snouts, but this is not true. Alligators have a wider, U-shaped snout. This is different from the more pointed, V-shaped snout that crocodiles have. Both have razor-sharp teeth lining their snouts, which they use to capture and hold onto prey. The difference lies in how these teeth can be viewed.  

When looking at an alligator, only the top teeth are visible. This is due to their upper jaw being wider than their lower jaw. As a result, the bottom teeth disappear when their mouths are no longer open. Both sets of teeth can be seen when Crocodiles close their mouths. This is due to both of their jaws being similar in width, allowing the top and bottom teeth to interlock.

Size and Weight

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It is no doubt that both alligators and crocodiles are massive reptiles. With that being said, they do vary in size. While sizing depends on the particular species, crocodiles have a tendency to grow larger than the average alligator. Adult crocodiles can grow to approximately 19 feet long, while adult alligators can grow to 14 feet long.

Skin

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A noticeable difference between alligators and crocodiles lies in the color and texture of their skin. Crocodiles are often lighter in color compared to alligators, often associated with being a light tan or olive color. 

In contrast, alligators are often a mix between black and grey. The shade of their skin directly depends on the environment in which the alligator swims in. For example, they often appear darker when swimming in environments with overhanging trees due to tannic acid. In contrast, they appear greener in areas where algae is abundant. 

Both crocodiles and alligators have sensory organs on their skin. These are seen in the form of small pits called integumentary sensor organs, otherwise known as ISO. This plays a role in helping both crocodiles and alligators locate their prey. ISO allows them to sense small pressure changes made throughout the water by other animals. 

ISO appears as small dots that can be seen on both reptiles, but the main difference lies in the placement. On crocodiles, ISO covers the majority of the body. In comparison, it is only seen around the mouths of alligators. 

Behavior

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A major difference between alligators and crocodiles can be found in the behavioral patterns. It is true that both reptiles are extremely dangerous, but their behavior differs from one another. Alligators are relatively timid compared to crocodiles. If approached, alligators have a tendency to try to escape rather than attack. However, they will attack if necessary, specifically if they are provoked, unexpectedly approached, or defending their young. Alligators are often more afraid of humans than the other way around. Regular contact, however, can cause them to lose that fear. Feeding them can result in them viewing humans as a source of food. This often results in them mistaking small children and family pets as prey.  

In contrast, crocodiles are often bad-tempered and more likely to attack humans, often unprovoked. Following the Nile crocodile, Australian saltwater crocodiles are viewed as the most dangerous in the world. Thankfully, American crocodiles are less aggressive and more timid, rarely attacking humans. While you are more likely to be attacked by an alligator than a crocodile in America, individuals getting attacked by either are extremely unlikely to happen. In fact, it is believed that Americans are more likely to be killed by a shark than an alligator or crocodile.

Location

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In the United States, individuals are more likely to see an alligator than a crocodile. This is due to the notably larger alligator population in comparison to the crocodile population. There are approximately 3 million alligators to an estimated 2,000 crocodiles in the US. 

One key difference between alligators and crocodiles is their preferred habitat. Crocodiles are often found in areas dominated by low-flowing rivers and grasslands. This includes Africa, Australia, Southeast Asia, North American, South America, and Central America. Unlike alligators, the crocodile’s lingual salt glands are extremely well-developed. As a result, they are able to expel excess salt from their bodies. This allows them to live in saline water for weeks at a time.   

In comparison, alligators are more common in China and the Southeastern portion of the United States, including Florida and the Gulf Coast states. This is a result of their less developed lingual glands, which forces alligators to stick to freshwater habitats. Alligators can often be found in freshwater marshes and slow-moving streams, but some do reside in brackish water (a mixture of saltwater and freshwater). The only area in the world where both alligators and crocodiles can be found living together is the Florida Everglades.

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Book a tour with Cajun Encounters today by visiting www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 or begin your walk through New Orleans by visiting neworleanslegendarywalkingtours.com or calling 504.503.0199

New Orleans City Tours: Marigny New Orleans

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Marigny New Orleans is known as an offbeat, vibrant art scene filled with a variety of establishments ranging in color and ready for your choosing. Guests can visit local artisans’ galleries and funky live jazz music venues or stroll down the streets, listening to the many sidewalk musicians.

History

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Photo courtesy of Carol-Jean Dixon

Marigny, otherwise known as Faubourg Marigny, was initially laid out in the first decade of the 19th century just downriver of the old New Orleans city limits. Due to its location, the section of Marigny closest to the river was built up first. Unfortunately, the neighborhood declined during the mid-20th century, but it was able to regain its strength in the late 20th century. As a result, the 1984 World’s Fair drew many French Quarter residents to Marigny.

It is considered one of the most colorful neighborhoods in the entire city. Both colonial French and Spanish elements have been the main influence in Marigny architecture, but some aspects of the Caribbean have also been seen. The blending of these different cultures has resulted in Marigny possessing its own unique architectural style.

In 2005, Marigny was able to avoid the disastrous effects of Hurricane Katrina, which wreaked havoc on most of New Orleans. Besides some partial wind damage, parts of Marigny sat at a high enough elevation to escape the deadly flooding seen throughout the city. The few areas that did flood did not experience significant damage.

Mardi Gras is considered a major, staple holiday in New Orleans, and Marigny is known to be one of the most active neighborhoods during this time. Believed to draw a bigger crowd than Bourbon Street, Marigny is slowly becoming the new heart of Mardi Gras for locals. One of the main crowd pleasers is the Society of St. Anne Walking Parade, featuring some of the best homemade costumes. The idea that anyone can be whoever they want for a day tends to draw crowds of visitors.

Frenchmen Street

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While Frenchmen Street is located in the 7th Ward of New Orleans, it is mostly known for the three-block section located in Marigny. Frenchmen Street features several houses that are over 100 years old, some even dating back later than that. In the 1980’s, the street began developing an entertainment district. Unlike Bourbon Street, which became more tourist-oriented, Frenchmen emerged as a hot spot for locals looking to enjoy live music. As a result, it was intended to showcase authentic New Orleans musical and gastronomical tastes. Fortunately, it was able to escape Hurricane Katrina relatively unscathed, actually resulting in an increase of visitors.

Frenchmen Street has a lively night life, featuring neon blinking lights, curbside concerts, and buzzing crowds. It is sometimes considered the most consistent musical stretch in all of New Orleans. Guests can find a wide variety of venues offering an array of live performances, ranging from traditional jazz and blues to reggae and rock. Frenchmen also features several late-night eateries more than suitable for any end of the night cravings. With so many options, visitors are guaranteed to experience a night suited to their needs.

Crescent Park

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Photo courtesy of http://www.crescentparknola.org

Crescent Park is a 1.4 mile, 20-acre urban linear park that plays a part in connecting the French Market District to the visitors of the riverfront. The park allows for outdoor recreational activities in a comfortable setting without sacrificing the working-class grit that defines the area. One side of Crescent Park features its signature symbol: the arched Piety Street Bridge, providing pedestrians with the safety of crossing over active railroad tracks. The concrete remnants of the old Piety wharf building lend an urban feeling to the stunning riverscape. Some of the park’s running paths end in the river and patches of weeds grow throughout, offering a sense of edginess in this picturesque landscape.

Explore Faubourg Marigny

Explore all of what Faubourg Marigny has to offer today and learn what makes it one of the most unique neighborhoods in New Orleans. With a wide range of shops and restaurants available, visitors can rest assured that they will see something that peaks their interests. Cajun Encounters offers the perfect opportunity to explore New Orleans, including Marigny, while hearing about the details that make it great from the mouths of well-trained guides. As a result, guests are guaranteed an uninterrupted viewing experience while learning more than they would alone or with any ordinary walking tour.

Cajun Encounters City Bus Tours offers visitors three different tour options throughout three different times of the day. The morning tour includes daily pick-ups at 8:30 am and offers guests a look into the historic city, including the experience of coffee and beignets for breakfast.  The mid-day tour begins at 11:15 am daily and offers a complete city tour, including a drive through the 9th ward. The afternoon tour begins daily pick ups at 2:30 pm and offers a full city tour, lasting for two and a half hours.

Guests can travel through the most well-known neighborhoods in New Orleans, including Marigny and the French Quarter, while seeing famous attractions like Frenchmen Street, the St. Louis Cathedral and Cemetery No. 1, and the Crescent Park. Those interested in the deep and interesting history of New Orleans can view the famous St. Charles Avenue Street Cars, beautiful Antebellum Mansions, and the mighty Mississippi River.

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Book a tour with Cajun Encounters today by visiting www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 or begin your walkthrough New Orleans by visiting neworleanslegendarywalkingtours.com or calling 504.503.0199