“What’s the difference between an alligator and a crocodile?”

Recently, it has come to The Eight-Year-Old’s attention that her Mommyo doesn’t know the difference between an alligator and a crocodile. You may remember, a week or two ago, I reported that The Eight-Year-Old had spent part of her vacation cuddling a crocodile. But Mr. Cuddles, as you can clearly see, is actually an alligator.

The Eight-Year-Old with Mr. Cuddles (Photo: Barbara Howell)

The Eight-Year-Old with Mr. Cuddles (Photo: Barbara Howell)

Frankly, The Eight-Year-Old was a little embarrassed that I couldn’t tell the difference.

So she assigned me one last bit of homework before Caterpickles breaks for its August vacation.

The Eight-Year-Old, firmly: “Mommyo, you need to do a Caterpickles on telling alligators and crocodiles apart. That’s the only way you’ll ever learn it.”

The good news is that according to LiveScience, I only have to check three things, and I’ll be able to differentiate between alligators and crocodiles with the best of them:

  1. What shape is their snout? Alligator snouts are shaped like the letter U. Crocodile mouths are pointy V’s.
  2. Can I see teeth even when its mouth is closed? If yes, it’s a crocodile. The upper jaw on an alligator is wider than its lower jaw, so when an alligator closes its mouth, no teeth show.  Crocodiles, on the other hand, have wider lower jaws, which means that even when their mouth is closed, you’ll be able to see the fourth tooth on each side of their lower jaw.
  3. Is that body of water over there fresh- or salt- water?  Crocodiles tend to live near saltwater. Alligators prefer freshwater marshes and lakes.

And now I know.

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About Shala Howell

Writer of things ranging from optical network switching white papers to genetic testing patient education materials to historical fiction set in an 1880s asylum. When I’m not scratching my head over pesky characters who refuse to do things how I want them done or dreaming of my next book (which will of course be much easier to write than the current one), my writerly self can be found blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, or musing about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.wordpress.com.
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One Response to “What’s the difference between an alligator and a crocodile?”

  1. Pingback: Mommyo meets Mr. Cuddles  | CATERPICKLES

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