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While it might be easy to categorize alligators and crocodiles both as menacing reptile predators, the two types of crocodilians have some distinct differences. Not only do crocodiles have the potential to grow significantly bigger than their gator relatives, their bites also can be significantly more potent.
Tougher Bite for Crocodiles
For pure bite strength, crocodiles beat alligators, no question. They beat all creatures whose bites have been evaluated, in fact. Saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) specifically are the bite champions. When these crocodiles clamp down their jaws, the pressure measures at 3,700 psi or pounds of pressure per square inch. American alligators' (Alligator mississippiensis) bites are only the sixth strongest on the planet, with psi of 2,980 pounds. These alligators' bites are still significantly mightier than those of many animals, including lions, whose jaw strength is roughly 1,000 psi.
Not only do crocodiles beat alligators in the sheer power of their bites, they also do in size potential. The biggest verified saltwater crocodile specimen exceeded 2,000 pounds and length of more than 23 feet. The biggest verified American alligator specimen was approximately 1,000 pounds and 19 feet. While the biggest American alligator is undeniably massive, the biggest saltwater crocodile is far more intimidating, sizewise.
Both Are Strong
While alligators might not seem as menacing as crocodiles, relatively speaking, don't assume they're not potentially hazardous to people. American alligators tend to be apprehensive of people and therefore don't generally go after them. Despite that, alligators have indeed occasionally behaved aggressively to people, sometimes resulting in human fatalities. Because of that, it's absolutely crucial to never go near alligators you might spot in the wild. Young children and domestic animals are particularly vulnerable to them. Crocodiles of all varieties have serious danger potential, too. Crocodiles have been responsible for many human deaths. Avoid both kinds of reptiles, as both are big and well-built predators.
Their strength makes both types of crocodilians predators of lots of prey animals. Since crocodilians aren't remotely choosy about what they eat, they take in a broad selection of prey. Their hunting prowess is admirable. Some of the many animals they feed on are monkeys, zebras, turtles, fish, porcupines, buffaloes, deer, pigs, birds and frogs. Some crocodiles even munch on hippopotamuses, albeit smaller specimens. Smaller crocodilians tend to seek out smaller prey, and the opposite is true for bigger varieties.
- Alligators and Crocodiles; Debbie Gallagher
- Sun Sentinel: Saltwater Crocodile Trumps American Alligator in Bite Force
- Alligator vs. Crocodile; Isabel Thomas
- Animal Planet: Alligator
- Animal Planet: What's the Difference Between an Alligator and a Crocodile?
- San Diego Zoo Animals: Crocodilian
- Crocodiles and Alligators; Therese Shea
- National Geographic: Crocodiles Have Strongest Bite Ever Measured, Hands-On Tests Show
- Auburn University Ask Aubie: Question
- Alligator; Richard Spilsbury
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images